[lug] Cleaning up /var when it gets too full

John Karns jkarns at csd.net
Mon Sep 23 13:11:13 MDT 2002

On Mon, 23 Sep 2002, Timothy C. Klein said:

> * Sean Reifschneider (jafo at tummy.com) wrote:
> > On Wed, Sep 18, 2002 at 10:01:22PM -0600, Bear Giles wrote:
> > >This may seem like a lot of effort, but experience shows that it
> > >eliminates a *lot* of problems.  It's a lot like that old commercial
> >
> > Unfortunately, on systems without a nice LVM and online resizable
> > filesystems, creating a bunch of partitions tends to create a lot more
> > problems than it eliminates...  Unless you have a really good idea up front
> > what the high water mark of /var/tmp, /var/log, /var/spool, etc are, you're
> > likely to run out of space in some of them while others have plenty to
> > spare...
> >
> > Mostly I'm going with simpler partitioning schemes -- always a /boot up
> > front on the disc, then usually either just a / or a / and /home.
> >
> I sure agree here.  When I first started using Linux a few years ago,
> all the advice seemed to point to multiple partitions.  I suspect this
> was just becuase most Unix folks were used to server machines.  If you
> want to make sure you log and mail files don't get DOSed and bring down
> the system by eating up all disk space, I guess a separate /var is good.
> And a /usr/, /usr/local, etc.

I also agree here, but would add that it may depend on the specific
purpose of the machine, and how the disk space is allocated.  These days
with the disk capacities available, it's not uncommon to have gobs of
empty space available after setting up the server.  I have also found that
filesystems alternative to the traditional ext2 may handle the disk full
issue a bit more eloquently.  Several months ago I ran out of disk space
on my laptop (reiserfs /) while copying some large files.  I was easily
able to correct the situation without having to change to a single user
run level, and go through some of the contortions as I had to in previous
situations with ext2 fs.

> For the average home Linux user, though, that is a major pain in the
> bleep.  It just causes problems.  Your needs will inevitably change, and
> then you are stuck with an unwieldy system.

IMO, this also applies to most servers that I've set up.  It can be quite
difficult to know before hand how much space to allocate; and in my
experience, in cases where I had set things up with 4 or 5 separate
partitions, I later regretted it and reverted to a simpler scheme.  There
is also a lot of personal preference that comes into play here, I suppose.
Most of the machines I deal with have minimal exposure to the outside

John Karns                                        jkarns at csd.net

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