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I had a problem (new to me) last week. I have a ext4 (Fedora 15) filesystem. The application that runs on the server suddenly stopped. I couldn't find the problem at first look.

df showed 50% available space. After searching for about an hour I saw a forum post where the guy used df -i. The option looks for inodes usage. The system was out of inodes, a simple problem that I didn't realize. The partition had only 3.2M inodes.

Now, my questions are: Can I make the system have more inodes? Should/can it be set when formatting the disk? With the 3.2M inodes, how many files could I have?

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Every file or directory uses one inode. A hard link to a file does not create an inode. – Paul Tomblin Dec 12 '11 at 1:59

2 Answers 2

up vote 16 down vote accepted

It seems that you have a lot more files than normal expectation.

I don't know whether there is a solution to change the inode table size dynamically. I'm afraid that you need to back-up your data, and create new filesystem, and restore your data.

To create new filesystem with such a huge inode table, you need to use '-N' option of mke2fs(8).

I'd recommend to use '-n' option first (which does not create the fs, but display the use-ful information) so that you could get the estimated number of inodes. Then if you need to, use '-N' to create your filesystem with a specific inode numbers.

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You can use mke2fs -i to specify the number of inodes. Its documentation indicates that “it is not possible to expand the number of inodes on a filesystem after it is created”. – Gilles Dec 12 '11 at 0:35
Can't change the number of inodes, but we can change the size (which is quite useless) tune2fs. Your answers were helpful, but the question now is what's the relation between inodes and total number of files? – piovisqui Dec 12 '11 at 1:35
@piovisqui: each file consume on inode, which is a pointer in the filesystem. if the file is an hard-link to another file it has the same inode. – Hanan N. Dec 12 '11 at 4:47
@Gilles The -i options specifies the size of the inode, not how many there are. The -N option sets the number inodes. – theillien Oct 23 '14 at 20:12
The relation between inodes and file numbers isn't necessarily 1:1. The first inode contains a list of pointers to blocks where the file is stored. If the list of blocks can't fit within one inode, then the inode contains a list of pointers to inodes which list the blocks where the file is stored. If it doesn't fit there then it goes 3 sets of inodes deep for that list of blocks etc. – StuWhitby Apr 14 at 14:02

I have an alternate solutions for this situation. Lets say you have 1000 inodes in a partition of 10G. But due to inodes limit you are not suppose to use all space of partition. But in this solutions you will be able to use the remaining space of the partition without formatting it.

$ df -i  # see list ( I need just one free inode here so move just one file into other PARTITION)
/dev/part1  1000 999 1 99.9%     /data

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/data/new_data
$ mkfs.ext4 /data/new_data
$ mkdir /data1
$ mount /data/new_data /data1

for permanent mounting

$ echo "/data/new_data /data1 ext4 defaults 0 1" >> /etc/fstab
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Welcome to U&L. I took the liberty to reformat your answer to the more usual representation of code here, inserting a prompt ($) to clearly distinguishing between commands and output (if they were only command, the prompt is normally left out). I also changed the SHOUTING in the bold phase emphasis, which is what I think you intended. You can roll back the changes if I misrepresented things – Anthon May 25 at 5:26
I think this solution has logic, but you need to manage the size when running dd. – piovisqui May 26 at 14:51
The details are wrong, you'd need to use a loop device, and maybe even unionfs depending on the application, but this is the only solution avoiding formatting and restoring from backup which is no fun when in a hurry with millions of files. There are circumstances where this could save the day ! – medoc Jul 29 at 20:43

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