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Old 09-25-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
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Harddisk filling up under /proc in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on Dell Xps


I've Ubuntu 12.04 LTS running along side the Windows 7 on my Dell XPS 15 laptop.

Suddenly today I started seeing that my hard disk is filling up and is now out of space. Ubuntu partition had 100 GB space and now full.

I found that /proc directory is the one which has filled up the system. I see lot of directories that are created and are named like 1,2,3 and so on.

I'm completely unsure how all of a sudden this started happening. I tried to delete these files but was not successful and I receive permission denied error eventhough I'm trying to do it under root.

I tried to delete the folders from the Gparted recovery mode and was no success.

I don't see a similar behavior on windows partition which is like 500 GB and it seems to be fine.

Any help would be appreciated.
Old 09-25-2012, 08:17 PM   #2
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/proc is a pseudo-file system and does not use any physical hard drive space. All those numbers represent running processes and you should not be trying to delete them. Something else is happening.

To find what is using your space post the output of these commands.
df -h
du -a /var | sort -n -r | head -n 10

You can also use the find command to print a list of files larger than a certain size. This example will find everything larger then 1M.
find / -type f -size +1000k -exec ls -lh {} \; | awk '{ print $8 ": " $5 }'
Old 09-25-2012, 10:33 PM   #3
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Hi michaelk,

Here is the output of the commands. Today I rebooted the machine and gave the command 'df -h' and the initial size of /dev/sda5 was 3.5G and now it has started bumping up.

df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda5 41G 13G 29G 27% /
udev 3.9G 12K 3.9G 1% /dev
tmpfs 1.6G 888K 1.6G 1% /run
none 5.0M 0 5.0M 0% /run/lock
none 3.9G 156K 3.9G 1% /run/shm

du -a /var | sort -n -r | head -n 10
7400076 /var
7018904 /var/log
7013364 /var/log/cups
7013352 /var/log/cups/error_log
190868 /var/lib
183108 /var/cache
125000 /var/lib/apt
124964 /var/lib/apt/lists
99132 /var/cache/apt-xapian-index
99128 /var/cache/apt-xapian-index/index.2

I modified your last query to search for files larger than 100M. Here is the output.

22:08: 256M
22:08: 256M
22:08: 256M
22:08: 256M
22:26: 128T
find: `/proc/871/fd/17': No such file or directory
find: `/proc/3073/task/3073/fd/5': No such file or directory
find: `/proc/3073/task/3073/fdinfo/5': No such file or directory
find: `/proc/3073/fd/5': No such file or directory
find: `/proc/3073/fdinfo/5': No such file or directory
find: `/home/shreedhar/.gvfs': Permission denied
22:26: 7.2G

I also observed that cupsd process is running 100% from the time I saw this issue. Is it anyway related?

Old 09-26-2012, 03:53 AM   #4
Wim Sturkenboom
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Location: Roodepoort, South Africa
Distribution: Slackware 10.1/10.2/12, Ubuntu 12.04, Crunchbang Statler
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You need to run the du command a couple of times to see what is growing. '/var' does not seem to be the culprit.

sudo du --max-depth=1 /
You should see some directory somewhere growing if you run this a couple of times (e.g. every 5 minutes). Although with the below in mind that might not be happening.

The fact that after a reboot the used space is back to 'normal' indicates files being deleted while an application is still using them. 'df' will include them in the count while 'du' will not; a reboot clears this situation (in your case only for a while). The below code might shine some light on that
lsof | grep -i deleted
Are you running any server type applications (mysql, apache) or have you recently played with logrotate?

BTW, for the last command awk seems to print the wrong field (time); the filename would be more useful Unless you have files that are actually called like that which might be the case. In which case you need to find which application creates those files.

Do you have any special software running?

Last edited by Wim Sturkenboom; 09-26-2012 at 04:02 AM.
Old 09-27-2012, 01:02 AM   #5
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Thanks for the reply Wim.

I ran the du command and found that there is a error_log file in /var/log/cups directory that is growing uncontrolled.

I was unable to find which process is writing in to it.

This is the content that is being written into it

E [25/Sep/2012:17:05:37 -0500] File "/usr/lib/cups/notifier/dbus" has insecure permissions (0100757/uid=0/gid=0).
W [25/Sep/2012:17:05:37 -0500] Notifier for subscription 17 (dbus://) went away, retrying!
I don't know what excatly the above error means.

There are no special softwares or any webservers are configured on the machine.

Anything that can be done to stop this will be of great help.

Old 09-27-2012, 09:03 PM   #6
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I solved the problem. The cupsd was running continuously on the machine and was filling up the error log. I disabled the cupsd deamon and rebooted the machine and the process was gone.

Also I was able to clear up the log files and now the system is back to normal. But I'm still thinking how did all of a sudden this deamon got started. I don't remember that I tried to configure anything related to this.

Thanks for all the support.



dell, ubuntu 12.04

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