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I have my /home partition formatted as ext3. Occassionally, some program that is part of GNOME is giving notifications about there only being 700mb of space left. Nautilius tells me I have 5.6GB. Disk Usage Analyzer tells me I have 10GB.

Which of these is most accurate, or is there another program that is more accurate?

What accounts for these different figures?

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When you said 5.6GB and 10GB do you mean the total or do you mean the remaining space? – phunehehe Feb 19 '11 at 3:53
@phunehehe: Remaining. – Macha Feb 20 '11 at 14:07
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Try a differfent program; maybe this will be more accurate:

df -h
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This gives the same 5.6GB figure as Nautilus. It also tells me the 700mb warning is for the / partition. – Macha Feb 18 '11 at 20:47

Disk Usage Analyzer counts up the amount of space in use by all the files. Something like df asks the filesystem how much space is in use. These two amounts can be very different depending on e.g. how many deleted, but still open, files are on the filesystem.

e.g. if you do something like this:

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=largefile bs=1M count=1024
$ python -c 'import time; x = open("largefile'); time.sleep(600)' &
$ rm largefile

You will see that the 1GB of space is still shown by df, but not by Disk Usage Analyzer. This is because while the file is still open, it is not actually removed from disk. When the python script finishes, the filesystem will free up the space.

I'm not sure if the above explains your 4.4G to 9G discrepancy, though!

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Or your /home and the root / directories resides on two different partitions. Check fdisk -ul to see how many partitions you have, and then use df -h to see on which partitions your directories mounted to, and how much space is really used on them.

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If you have large number of deleted files in your Trash, that could account for the difference what you see with Nautilus and df -h.

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Many unix file systems reserve a percentage of the total space as emergency reserves to be used only by a specific user. It is likely that Disk Analyizer is not taking this into account and showing you the full space on the physical disk. Most Linux tools will ask the file system to report the free space, which it does without telling about the reserved percentage. It is possible to have a disk show 100% full in the normal tools, but root is still able to write files. Users will no longer be able to write, but root still can. This is a protection mechanism so that the system does not become unusable where a user to fill up the hard drive. This likely explains the 5.6 vs 10 Gig discrepancy. You can change the percentage of reserved space using tune2fs.

As you noted in comments, the 700MB vs X gigs discrepancy is likely caused by one referring to the root partition and the your home partition.

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