I try to chmod some files and I get the error "disk quota exceeded":

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It's true that I don't have that much space remaining in the filesystem where I use chmod, namelynfs.mit.edu:/export/evodesign/beatdb (which is an NFS), either in terms of bytes or in terms of inodes:

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But why does chmod need more space?

I use Ubuntu 12.04.

Edit: Some more info following the comments:

1) I don't know the OS of the NFS server (nmap -O nfs-server-ip didn't return anything)

2) The NFS protocol in use by a mounted NFS filesystem is NFSv3:

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3) quota -v:

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4) I don't have any /var/log/messages logs, I do have some /var/log/syslog logs but nothing looks weird there.

  • @Mikel : I had chosen the title in reference with out-of-place algorithms (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-place_algorithm), but I guess out-of-space is good too. – Franck Dernoncourt Jun 22 '14 at 2:52
  • Please feel free to change it back if you think it's better. – Mikel Jun 22 '14 at 3:33
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    Sorry, I don't know the OS (nmap -O nfs-server-ip didn't return anything) and I'm not sure how to determine which version of the NFS protocol is in use by a mounted NFS filesystem. – Franck Dernoncourt Jun 22 '14 at 4:03
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    "Disk quota exceeded" is a different error than "filesystem full". Type quota -v to see if you're over quota for that filesystem. You may need to do this when logged in as the owner of the files in question rather than as root. It's possible that your server rejects all writes to files or to file attributes when the file owner is over quota. – Mark Plotnick Jun 22 '14 at 13:23
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    @HaukeLaging In some filesystem designs, you can run out of space when trying to remove a file (and there are good reasons behind this). – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 22 '14 at 22:08

As noted in the comments: it seems likely that you're over quota, and the filesystem is rejecting your write for this reason.

There are many filesystems where all writes are journaled, with the old version kept. One such filesystem is ZFS - read about the interaction between ZFS snapshots and quotas.

(However, the problem may just be that the NFS server rejects all writes when you're over quota).

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