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Now, I see that my desktop running rhel 5.6 has run out of space. Now I need to clean it up. There must be some unintentional files adding up. What I would like to be able to do is list the files in descending size order in a clean way and see the culprits.

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First thing to try is yum clean packages. Have a look at man yum for more cleanup options.

Other things you could do are mostly cleaning your own downloaded files, logs etc., to which there' no general rule.

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What I would do is to install and run baobap or KDirStat or the like. This would give you a visual graph of what is taking up space, together with file types. You can easily spot the problem and delete/uninstall things you don't want.

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I usually use ncdu for similar purposes.

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