Linux Mint – Analyzing disk usage

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We’ve spent a great deal of time in this chapter going over how to access media and mount storage devices. However, it’s also important to understand how to manage that data and know how to determine how the space is being used. Finding the amount of free space on a volume couldn’t be simpler. In Cinnamon, if you open the storage device in Nemo, you’ll see the amount of free space on that volume shown at the bottom of the window. If you’re working from a terminal window, the following command does the trick:

df -h

The df command will show you a list of volumes and the amount of free space available on each one. (The df command stands for disk free and the -h flag tells df that we want human readable output or rather shows the size of the disk in megabytes/gigabytes.) This certainly is useful information but not exactly what we want if we need to find out what is taking up all the space on a drive. For example, if a production server is running out of space, you would certainly want to drill down and determine the items that are the most responsible for the usage.

The Disk Usage Analyzer comes to the rescue. The Disk Usage Analyzer comes preinstalled with Linux Mint and allows you to generate a graphical overview of the items that take up the most space on a volume. To use it, locate the tool in your application menu and then click on the volume you’d like to interrogate. Immediately, the program will begin scanning the volume. Once finished, you will see a list of folders ordered from the largest to the smallest as well as a graphical depiction on the right-hand side of the window. Using your mouse, you can point to a section in the graphical display to reveal the name of the folder that it represents. The larger the data inside the folder, the larger is the block inside the display.

The following screenshot shows the Disk Usage Analyzer in action:

Go ahead and try it for yourself. Take a look at each of your volumes and find out which takes up the most space. If you already have established a Linux system with a good amount of data, you may even discover things you don’t need, which can be removed.


The Disk Usage Analyzer is not limited to Mint or Cinnamon. Quite a few Linux distributions include it by default. However, if they don’t include it, you can easily install it. Although the title of the application is Disk Usage Analyzer, the actual package is named baobab and most Linux distributions make it available in their repositories if it is not installed by default.

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