I am using 32-bit Ubuntu 12.04. My laptop is Thinkpad T400.

As System Monitor shows, "free" for my $HOME is 1.5GiB, but "Available" is ranging between 0 and 97 MiB. My hardrive is constantly being read and written, to release more space, and at the same time slows down my system.

My 4GB swap hasn't been used yet, while my 8GB RAM usage is a little less than 50%.

I set my Firefox web content cache to be 50MB, and freed it manually from time to time.

How can I find out

  • The reason that causes that, e.g.,is there some running application that is using the space of $HOME as temporary storage place and therefore can be freed up?

  • Which directory or file is increasing its size the most/fast?

  • maybe this could help at knowing the file, if not a lot of processes are editing home files
    – Geo
    Jul 22, 2014 at 3:57

1 Answer 1


From this answer on Launchpad:

Michael Bienia (geser) said on 2007-06-23: #1

The ext3 filesystem reserves an amount of the total space for root. If some user (or daemon) fills the disk then a login couldn't be possible anymore. So even root couldn't login anymore to fix it. Therefore ext3 reserves an amount of 5% (default) of the filesystem for the root user to prevent it (it doesn't work if root fills the disk).

Available space is now the total free space including the reserved space for root. Free space is the free space that you as a user can fill :)

It is possible to change this with tune2fs (PLEASE consult the manpage before using this tool).

I suspect this also true for ext4 filesystems. In the case of btrfs, the btrfs docs say that df and other tools can't report free space correctly, so that maybe it (unless gnome-system-monitor uses the btrfs filesystem df command.

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