Root partition is full


The system’s root partition (also known as / or slash) is the partition where the operating system’s base is installed.

Every other user files should be located in a sub-directory of /home.

When the root partition is near or reach its maximum capacity it can translate into an array of hard to diagnose problems on your server.


  • The system is unstable
  • Apache cannot be restarted
  • Email server cannot fetch emails
  • Impossible to install new software or updates


With a simple SSH command:

df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda1 1.9G 981M 887M 53% /
/dev/hda2 34G 3.8G 29G 12% /home
none 61M 0 61M 0% /dev/shm

Or if you are using Webmin:

  • With SSL:
  • Without SSL:


You must replace with the hostname of your server.


They are many:

  • Backup of your sites in a directory other than a /home sub-directory;
  • Big archives extracted in the /root directory;
  • Setup of massive software (for example online game server) in a directory belonging to the system partition (for example /usr),
  • Bug of mod_gzip;
  • Overflow of the email queue
  • Old logs piled up



For the first two cases, you just need to move the files/directories in a /home sub-directory.

First we need to find large files that need to be moved elsewhere. For this you can use the command du.

Here are some examples of how du can be used:

a.log  b.log  c.log  d.log
3411980 .
du -chs
3.3G    .
3.3G    total
du -chs *
2.0M    a.log
30M     b.log
301M    c.log
3.0G    d.log
3.3G    total

To find the five most massive files in a directory, you can execute the following command:

ls -lh --sort=size | head -n 5
total 20M
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2.6M may 1 18:00 vim-common-6.1-18.7x.2.i386.rpm
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2.5M jui 22 10:15 mutt-1.4.1-1.src.rpm
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2.5M jui 22 10:33 mutt-1.4.1i-2mdk.src.rpm
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1.7M apr 9 2003 bind-9.2.1-1.7x.2.i386.rpm
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1.5M jui 18 14:25 tin-current.tar.gz

Here, we note that:

There is a 20MB file in this directory (the sub directories are not taken into account) The more massive file is vim-common-6.1-18.7x.2.i386.rpm: its size is 2.6MB

To solve the problem, we are going to place the bulky files in a directory on /home.

Visibly, these are .rpm and .tar.gz (softwares archives). You are not obliged to keep them in /root. Therefore, we are going to creae a directory on /home to store them.

mkdir /home/archives
mv *.tar.gz *.rpm /home/archives

Unloading massive software

For example, you have installed a HLDS server (Half-Life Dedicated Server) in /usr/local/game/hlds. This directory is on the system partition, thus you have to move it on /home and create a symbolic link in order the path to remain valid.


Make sure you stop the HLDS server before the operation!

mv /usr/local/game/hlds /home/
ln -s /home/hlds /usr/local/game/hlds

Bug of mod_gzip

It may happen that mod_gzip doesn’t delete its temporary files located in /tmp and that they reach an important size (several GB). To realise it:

ls -l /tmp/*.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 53695415 sep 30 00:10 _11831_132_33.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 0 sep 3 00:10 _12954_120_21.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 0 sep 7 00:10 _14733_110_11.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 0 sep 21 00:10 _16191_106_7.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 0 aoû 19 00:10 _16585_123_24.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 0 aoû 25 00:10 _16693_152_53.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 0 oct 5 00:10 _17282_110_11.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 0 sep 14 00:10 _17792_106_7.wrk
-rwx------ 1 nobody nobody 0 oct 7 00:10 _18056_108_9.wrk

To delete them:

rm -rf /tmp/*.wrk

This bug is known but its origin is not. For the moment, the only one solution to avoid it is to deactivate mod_gzip in httpd.conf. Look for mod_gzip yes line and replace it by mod_gzip no. Then restart Apache that way:

/etc/init.d/httpd restart

This bug only occurs for some site (probably due to a PHP or CGI script).