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I don't recall ever seeing "overflow" there before, and I thought that /tmp was part of a different (much larger) filesystem. 1MB isn't enough to do hardly anything; I don't understand why there would only be 1MB for /tmp. Also, I notice that my hda1 seems to be full. I imagine that this is what's causing the problem. If so, is there an easy way to free space on that partition (temporary files etc.)? I know that buying a $50 HDD could easily increase my HDD space by around 25x, but I'm a bit tight on funds at the moment.
This should never happen, as root usually reserves 5% of the space on / just in case the filesystem gets full and ordinary users can no longer login. Because there's still a bit of space reserved exclusively for root, root can login, perhaps without a GUI, and tidy things up.
Start by using the following command to quickly free up some space so you can work on this issue.
that will delete any debian packages in your package cache, which will not harm your system in any way, but should free up some space so you can work on cleaning up your drive space issue with your root partition '/'.
to free up a tiny bit more space
aptitude purge ~c
That will remove any configuration files that are left over from packages you have previously uninstalled.
then I would install locales to purge your system of man pages for languages you can't or don't read..
aptitude install locales
You should now have a bit of free space in which to work to find out where all your disk space has gone..
Well, I've manually removed my packages downloaded with apt manually, made sure locals was installed and I removed a couple bytes from /tmp so that I can at least send email. In /var/tmp, there's only about 11MB of data, so I'm not too concerned about clearing that and risking crashing something that needed that data. I've yet to read about deborphan and debfoster, but I'll do that.
I've been running as a normal user, although as administrator I can su to root.
By cleaning apt's cache I've freed 162MB of data, so I guess that's enough to live on. Unfortunately, I had 200MB+ of updates to do, so I had to update in chunks: apt-get upgrade, cancel part way through, dpkg -i *.deb in the cache folder, apt-get clean and then start over again.
In the meantime, any suggestions for HDD conservation?
Use the df and du tools to find out hwere the disk space is beaing used.
Check /var/log dir for large logfiles. Is logrotate functioning? Check via mailx as root to see if you've had any warnings. See also /var/log/messages.