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On Ubuntu when the root partition gets full you can always run apt-get autoremove, apt-get clean and apt-get autoclean to free up some space for the package manager to continue working. But the equivalent command on nixos seems to have some issues running on a full root partition:

$ nix-collect-garbage
...
error: committing transaction: database or disk is full

Quite the pickle to be in when the reason you're running nix-collect-garbage to begin with is to clean up the full disk.

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Hopefully you'll have stuff stored in /tmp you can remove to free up the space needed for nix-collect-garbage to complete.

$ rm -r /tmp/*
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  • Do you intend to remove the /tmp directory itself? Otherwise, I'd suggest something like rm -r /tmp/*.
    – Jeff Schaller
    Jan 1, 2018 at 14:05
  • Usually, /tmp is mounted into RAM so it won't help in those cases
    – piegames
    May 15, 2020 at 20:28

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