My / folder is reading as full and I can't update software or do anything.

Not sure what I'm doing wrong here.

$ df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             5.7G  5.4G     0 100% /
udev                  1.9G  4.0K  1.9G   1% /dev
tmpfs                 770M  1.1M  769M   1% /run
none                  5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
none                  1.9G  808K  1.9G   1% /run/shm
/dev/sda6             961M   18M  895M   2% /tmp
/dev/sda7             9.9G  2.9G  6.6G  31% /home
/dev/sda3             5.7G  140M  5.3G   3% /usr/local
/dev/sda4             2.9G  1.3G  1.4G  49% /var
/dev/sdb1              94G  1.3G   88G   2% /sites
/home/username/.Private  9.9G  2.9G  6.6G  31% /home/username
/dev/sdb5             282G   88G  180G  33% /mnt/multimedia

$ df -h /
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1       5.7G  5.4G     0 100% /

$ du /mnt /media
4   /mnt/multimedia
8   /mnt
4   /media

This is a new install of Ubuntu 12.04 and I'm not sure how/why the root system is so full.

  • huh. I guess it is full, somehow. I adjusted the questions with zwets suggested outputs
    – Jesse
    Mar 12, 2013 at 7:10
  • 1
    For me it was filled up by outdated kernels and I cleaned them up with this dpkg -l 'linux-*' | sed '/^ii/!d;/'"$(uname -r | sed "s/\(.*\)-\([^0-9]\+\)/\1/")"'/d;s/^[^ ]* [^ ]* \([^ ]*\).*/\1/;/[0-9]/!d' | xargs sudo apt-get -y purge Got it from Ubuntu Community Help Apr 12, 2015 at 15:56
  • This app freed 13 GiB for me on ElementaryOS - appcenter.elementary.io/com.github.hannesschulze.optimizer
    – Qumber
    Feb 26, 2021 at 14:06

7 Answers 7


Just to share a magic command to know where all your disk space goes:

sudo du -hsx /* | sort -rh | head -n 40

You end up with a pretty neat report like this:

16G     /home
5.3G    /var
2.6G    /usr
840M    /run
277M    /root
171M    /lib
59M     /tmp
25M     /sbin
19M     /boot
16M     /bin
9.6M    /etc
136K    /ngx_pagespeed-latest-stable.zip
24K     /DEBIAN
16K     /lost+found
8.0K    /media
4.0K    /srv
4.0K    /opt
4.0K    /mnt
4.0K    /lib64

Then you can start again from another folder:

sudo du -hsx /home/* | sort -rh | head -n 35

Remove what's not necessary and you should be fine. It's part of my linux cheat sheet

  • Nice post and useful tool to have... Feb 20, 2017 at 5:52
  • 3
    What about the hidden folders though? The ones that begin with a dot.
    – John Red
    Dec 20, 2017 at 8:58
  • @JohnRed Such as for your home directory: du -hsx $(ls -A ~/) | sort -rh
    – ritiek
    Oct 31, 2019 at 4:32

Some likely measures for an overflowing root partition are (based on cases):

1. Core dumps filling up the disk.

Check with:

find / -xdev -name core -ls -o  -path "/lib*" -prune

2. Unnecessary packages filling up the space.

The following command will remove all automatically installed packages, which aren't required any more. (Because the dependency which force the installation in the past has been removed.)

apt-get autoremove --purge 

3. Outdated kernel packages

Check how many kernel packages are installed, and remove outdated kernel versions. You may investigate the current situation with:

dpkg -l "linux*{tools}*" |grep ^.i

Remove any kernel versions you doesn't need any more

4. Hidden storage

Other mounted partitions may hide used storage. To investigate this mount the root file system temporary on a second location:

mkdir /tmp/2ndRoot
mount /dev/sda1 /tmp/2ndRoot

Now look on every directory, that is normally hidden by another mount, e.g.:

  • tmp
  • home
  • run
  • var
  • usr/local

    and in your case also:

  • sites


Don`t forget to control at the end the consistency of your installation with:

apt-get install -f


Reserved storage

/dev/sda1       5.7G  5.4G     0 100% /

The output shows that you have still some space, but it seems to be reserved for root. The good point is that your system functionality is currently still be given.

But you should fix the problem soon.

Space consumption of ubuntu 12.04

To have only 5.7 Gb for an ubuntu installation seems to be a bit too little. You should remove some unessential software packages.

My current installations have 10-14 Gb for the root and binary (aka /usr) partitions.

  • Thanks I ended up just bumping up the root partition and I'll keep an eye on it should I have to work in your trick to view all the folders (maybe local/bin?). Odd that the disk space analyzer tool led me to believe it was the mounted drives at /media/ since they were all red and full.
    – Jesse
    Mar 12, 2013 at 20:42
  • @H.-Dirk Schmitt 1.3 GB reduced by this command "apt-get autoremove --purge". Thanks for the details.
    – sugunan
    Sep 20, 2019 at 2:12
  • you save my live Jul 17, 2020 at 0:16

Another solution would be to use ncdu, eg:

sudo ncdu -x /

Where / is the partition/drive you wanna check. For my example, the result is

    4,0GiB [##########] /usr
  579,3MiB [#         ] /root
  487,4MiB [#         ] /opt
   41,7MiB [          ] /lib
   22,7MiB [          ] /sbin
   21,2MiB [          ] /boot
   18,6MiB [          ] /etc
    9,1MiB [          ] /bin
    3,6MiB [          ]  core
  260,0KiB [          ] /build
   88,0KiB [          ] /tmp
e  16,0KiB [          ] /lost+found
    8,0KiB [          ] /media
    4,0KiB [          ] /lib64
e   4,0KiB [          ] /srv
e   4,0KiB [          ] /mnt
>   0,0  B [          ] /var
>   0,0  B [          ] /sys
>   0,0  B [          ] /run
>   0,0  B [          ] /proc
>   0,0  B [          ] /ovhbackup
>   0,0  B [          ] /home
>   0,0  B [          ] /dev

Then you can navigate through the folders using your keyboard arrows and simply press the D key to delete a folder/file.

ncdu can be installed from the apt packaging tool on Debian based systems:

sudo apt install ncdu
  • 2
    this is an underrated answer. Great way to check your filesystem data and delete stuff you don't need.
    – ihojmanb
    Oct 12, 2020 at 17:17

Lubuntu users ?


was over 85G of space, they even know about it!

  • My file was .cache/lxsession/Lubuntu/run.log
    – Stephane
    Feb 21, 2019 at 7:02

You made the filesystem too small.

Unless you REALLY know what you are doing, and are trying to build a tiny appliance, either grow the root filesystem, or rebuilt the system with a more sane value.

I usually start with a minimum of a 16gb disk when building an Ubuntu VM. If you want to keep things simple and not have to mess with growing devices, 32gb might be a good place to start... I tend to be conservative with disk space, knowing I can grow it later if needed.

Documentation recommends a absolute minimum of 8gb for root, but experience tells me that an inexperienced user should start with more.

Here is some relevant documentation:



Check the "/home/yourname/.local/share/Trash" folder with "du" command (see above):

I was having this same problem and used the trick mickael posted above to concisely print out disk usage. I found that if you delete things using the window manager and you don't have sufficient permissions at the time you do it, the files you thought you deleted (both by command line using "rm" and "apt autoremove --purge", and by emptying trash bin) may have ended up in the ".local/share/____" of the root partition.

"Filesystem" in the left pane of the window manager was saying nearly full of the 50gb I set aside for installation files for Ubuntu/Mint. Turns out the lectures I mistakenly copied to this partition weren't deleted when I moved them to the partition I originally meant to copy them to. It is now 36gb free which makes way more sense (mine is large mainly because I keep HD graphics on this partition too for quick previewing of large sets of images).

Definitely make sure you get a good understanding of permissions before you delete / manage your files or may wind up having things you thought were deleted crowding your SSD.

As a side note, my 16gb of ram was loading on boot at 92% while my root partition was housing said deleted files, and staying there steadily because of this same issue too. The ram is used to cache items on the disk to vastly improve linux's performance. The operating system will assume you're using the installation partition correctly (which was not the case for me in this instance) so it will cache what it can to accelerate system responsiveness. Now this is only a point of note, since disk caching doesn't reserve that space in memory; it would yield the used ram space to other programs that need it when they request it (that's just how disk caching works), but it's a needless use of resources loading 14.5gb of deleted files into ram every time I booted.

Hope it helps! Huge thank you to the answers above, extremely helpful!


Having the same issue, and also trying to delete all data in "/home/yourname/.local/share/Trash" because I deleted some data with Nautilus, I realized that folder "/root/.local.share/Trash was also full so I needed to delete all the content.

For entering in /root at least in Ubuntu you need to sudo su, otherwise your access will be restricted.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.