Cleanup free space on Linux, delete journalctl logs

Submitted by luxian on Thu, 08/03/2017 - 07:13

Today my dev server ran out of space. Which was a little bit weird - 20GB should be enough for a bunch of websites. I managed to free up to 6 GB of space just doing the following:

1. Aptitude cache

sudo apt-get autoremove

I had to run this 2 or 3 times until nothing could be removed anymore. Not sure why it didn't clean up everything from the first pass.

2. Logs

In my case journal logs (/var/log/journal) used more than 1GB of space. I found a cool thread on Arch forum: Is it safe to delete /var/log/journal log files? -- with two useful commands:

journalctl --disk-usage # See how much space your journal logs  use
systemctl kill --kill-who=main --signal=SIGUSR2 systemd-journald.service # Force journal to execute cleanup procedure

In my case /etc/systemd/journald.conf didn't have any values, so I had to un-comment the defaults and change the following:


After that I tried the second command, which didn't help. Being a dev server, few minutes of downtime are ok so I restarted and then the journal logs are down to ~ 135M now (not sure why not 100M, but I'm happy anyway).

3. Find biggest folders

Cleaning up unused packages and logs didn't free up as much space as I wanted. I wanted to check what folders had biggest disk usage, but I had no idea how to do it. After some searching ended up on How to Find Out Top Directories and Files (Disk Space) in Linux which is exactly what I needed. I used the following command to find top 20 biggest folders in the current directory. I started from root (/) and ended up in /var/lib.

du -hs * | sort -rh | head -n 20

Using this I was able identify other folders that grew out of proportion:

  • drush backup folder
  • cache_form table
  • docker images (
  • mysql slow query log



Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.