/var got really big

CLIFFORD ILKAY clifford_ilkay at dinamis.com
Thu Oct 16 22:38:24 UTC 2008

John Hubbard wrote:
>> John Hubbard wrote:
>>> I have a 1 day old install of ubuntu 8.04 server.  My /var directory is 
>>> pretty big.  It seems that most of it is a collection of about 900MB of 
>>> .debs in /var/cache/apt/archives.  (I installed kde, gnome and xfce 
>>> desktops) I usually won't worry too much but I installed /var on a 
>>> separate 3GB partition and if it keeps growing it will run out of 
>>> space.  My laptop's /var is only 90MB which is what led me to think 3GB 
>>> would be plenty of space.  Do the files in the apt archive ever get 
>>> cleaned out?  Is it safe to delete them?
>> Others have suggested you clean the apt cache. Since you have more than
>> one machine, I'd suggest you do the opposite. Install and configure
>> apt-cacher on your server and import the packages that are in
>> /var/cache/apt/archives into your apt-cacher cache, which could be
>> wherever you want it to be, though the default is in
>> /var/cache/apt-cacher. Your laptop would then download from your local
>> apt-cacher cache rather than have to download the same packages as your
>> server from the Internet. It saves on bandwidth and makes the update
>> process faster. If a package exists in the cache, it will be used. If
>> not, it will be fetched from an on-line repository.
> How well would that work if my other machines are different operating 
> systems?  My laptop is still running gutsy because I had problems with 
> hardy.  It is a 32 bit machine.  I am thinking about trying Intrepid on 
> it since (I think) my broadcom wireless adapter is now supported without 
> the need for ndiswrapper.  One of my other machines is a mythbuntu 
> machine (still in progress) that will run Intrepid but the 64 bit version.

apt-cacher handles differing versions quite well. If it finds foo.deb
for gutsy in your local cache, it uses it. If not, it fetches it from an
on-line repo. Same story for 32 vs. 64 bit. If you only have one Gutsy
machine, there is no advantage. The advantage to using apt-cacher is if
you have multiple machines using the same version, you only have to
download the packages once.

>> By the way, the problem you're having, that of running out of space on
>> /var, illustrates why using LVM (Logical Volume Manager) is a good idea.
>> LVM makes shrinking or expanding filesystems much easier. If your /var
>> and say, /home, are on logical volumes, assuming you have room to spare
>> on /home, you could shrink /home and expand /var, if you needed to. You
>> still have plenty of free space on /var so you don't have to worry for
>> now. If they're not on logical volumes, it's a bit more work but it's
>> still possible. I suppose you could even symlink /var/cache/apt to a
>> directory on another filesystem that has free space.
> I know that it is possible to use raid and LVM together but it also 
> sounded really complicated.  Maybe it would have been easier in the long 
> run though.  The machine is still young enough that it might make sense 
> to reinstall again.  Maybe I should just ask for more advice before 
> installing. 

There isn't any appreciable difference in complexity. We use LVM on RAID
all the time in our hosting operation and it works quite well.

Clifford Ilkay
1419-3266 Yonge St.
Toronto, ON
Canada  M4N 3P6

+1 416-410-3326
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