Storage Quota

Every account is given a home directory on the filesystem to store the account owner's personal files. Filesystem disk quota, (or quota for short) is a prescribed limit to the amount of disk space that an account can use on a given filesystem. Accounts are limited to the amount of space that they can use so that disk space usage can be controlled.

The quota is the maximum amount of disk space that the system permits a given account to use. Reaching the quota can have nasty side effects: the system will not permit any operation that requires using additional disk space; attempting to edit files my corrupt them; and logging-in may fail (this problem is discussed below). The quota takes effect as soon as it is exceeded.

Display Quota Usage

A user can display her/his own filesystem disk usage and limits using the command quota. This usage is updated hourly. The command displays both usage and limits, as in the following example:

TYPE        NAME       USED  QUOTA
POSIX User  abatko     767M    10G

To view your immediate and actual usage please use the following example:

du -sh


Dropbox is installed on our lab wokstations; however, we do not have enough storage space for everyone's Dropbox data. If you are near your quota, Dropbox is likely to blame. Fortunately, Dropbox provides the Selective Sync feature which you can use to keep files on Dropbox's servers and not ours.

  1. Click on the Dropbox logo on the menu bar
  2. Select Preferences
  3. Go to the account tab
  4. Click on Selective Sync
  5. De-select all the files you don't need on the workstations
  6. Click OK to save your changes

Freeing Space

It is common that when attempting to login via a graphic console, the login process may momentarily display the graphical desktop environment, and then immediately be thrown back to the login prompt. This behaviour indicates that the account has approached too close to the hard quota for the windowing program to be able to write data to special files in the account's home directory - which is something that some windowing programs do as part of their operation. To resolve this problem it is necessary to login via the text console.

Simultaneously press Ctrl-Alt-F1 to switch from a graphic console to a text console. To switch to a graphic console from a text console simultaneously press Alt-F4. Note that the "Ctrl" key is not necessary when going from text to graphic console. If you can't find what you're looking for in either direction, there is no harm in cycling through all the function keys (F1-F12).

Once you're log in, regardless of whether it is via the graphic console or the text console, you will need to delete some files to return to below the soft quota limit. Commands to delete some directories and files are listed below:

  • rm -rf ~/.mozilla/*/*/Cache/*
  • rm -rf ~/.netscape/cache/*
  • rm -f ~/*core*
  • find ~ -name '*core*' -type f | xargs -i file {} | grep 'core file' | awk -F: '{print $1}' | xargs -i rm -f {}
  • rm -rf ~/.kde/share/cache/http/*

To find which files are the largest, run

du | sort -n