Can someone provide some background?

It seems like this folder is growing even when I'm not updating or installing any packages, but I'm not entirely sure about that.

Context: My AWS instances keep running out of disk space, and i already learned to do this periodically:

apt-get -y autoremove
apt-get -y autoclean

But I don't understand why it grows in the first place.

Also see:

EDIT: On my very new server i get this:

du -h -d1 /usr/src/ | sort -hr
266M  /usr/src/
115M  /usr/src/linux-aws-headers-4.15.0-1035
115M  /usr/src/linux-aws-headers-4.15.0-1032
19M   /usr/src/linux-headers-4.15.0-1035-aws
19M   /usr/src/linux-headers-4.15.0-1032-aws
  • You can save space by not installing headers in the first place. You do need them to compile programs though. For example dkms compiles driver programs. How large are your directories? May 8, 2019 at 22:04
  • I'm just running stuff like apache, artifactory, or jenkins. /usr/src grew to 3G on 8G disk, before the system died. Never installed any header on purpose (didn't know about them before analyzing disk usage). May 8, 2019 at 22:18
  • Can you run du /usr/src/ -d 1 -h and paste the results into your question. Reply using @WinEunnuchs2Unix and I'll check the output for clues. A single Linux Kernel version's headers are about 120 MB on my machine. I have almost 20 kernel headers installed plus other "driver stuff" and `/usr/src/ is only 1.5 GB. May 8, 2019 at 23:26
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix done. On my old server it looked more like the list in the referenced SO question. I am interested in understanding when and why this list grows, and not so much how to clean it up (already know that). May 8, 2019 at 23:46
  • It's only 266 MB today. Maybe check it daily to see if it grows? Then if it doesn't after 7 days check it weekly? Whenever it grows update your question with new stats and ping me again. May 8, 2019 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


This is probably due to the automatic updates.

You can disable the automatic updates and even remove the unused kernel images and headers running sudo apt autoremove --purge (as you are already doing)

More info here: https://help.ubuntu.com/lts/serverguide/automatic-updates.html

  • 1
    They only have two kernel versions so autoremove will do nothing. Turning off automatic updates means nothing gets updated, not just the headers and new kernel versions. Oct 30, 2019 at 11:52
  • 1
    That command saved me 8.5GB. But also, the link now just redirects to ubuntu.com/server/docs Jul 11, 2021 at 20:14

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