out of space on flash drive

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Mintstant Karma
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out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:29 am

Hi everyone. I've been using Linux Mint 18.2 Mate from a flash drive for almost a year. The flash drive is one of three that I have plugged into my desktop computer all the time. Each of them was created by YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Installer) and they contain multiple Linux distros and some accessories, though for the last year I've used almost nothing but Linux Mint 18.2. My computer has about 10 GB of RAM, a Core i7 processor, and I save all my data to an external hard drive. The flash drive has 21 GB of free space and, if memory serves, I chose a persistence size of 4 GB for Linux Mint. That's what determines the casper-rw size, right? I can confirm casper is 4089 MB.

All has been pretty much fine until the last couple days.

First I got a warning about low disk space. I encountered this before and was unable to determine what to delete, since almost everything I create or download in Mint gets saved to the external drive and therefore shouldn't be taking up any space that Linux Mint needs. When it happened before I got rid of some big files that were in "Trash," which thankfully seemed to fix the problem, because I was at a loss as to what else I could remove! I've used a few versions of Mint but in some ways I'm still a relative newbie, with limited understanding of the Linux file system.

This time, unlike last, there wasn't much in "Trash" to delete. So I watched helplessly as another warning said I had even less space. Things were also getting extremely slow. I was running Firefox, where I have hundreds of open browser tabs. (I know; I can't seem to control myself. But they're organized by the wonderful Tab Groups add-on.) I closed Firefox and the warnings stopped, but everything was still extremely slow.

Then I rebooted, hoping that would fix the slowness. Instead it took longer than usual and then, after seeing the Linux Mint logo and hoping to see the desktop, I instead saw a black screen for at least half a minute, followed by the worst warning yet: This computer has only 0 bytes disk space... and the suggestion, again, to delete or offload files. Although I still didn't know where I was going to look for stuff to delete, I tried to select the "Examine" button but then realized I didn't have a mouse pointer. I couldn't even select "Examine" with my cursor keys and press Enter -- there was no response. I had to force a shut-down using the power button.

On reboot I selected a different flash drive this time, and opened Ubuntu. I explored the drive containing Linux Mint looking for something to delete, but again saw nothing obvious. I found a Trash icon, but because I'm pretty inexperienced navigating the Ubuntu "Unity" desktop I was confused and unsure where those trash files were located. Still I deleted a 144 MB folder within, but on returning to try Linux Mint again, got the same "0 byte" message at bootup. I later determined that trash had resided on the computer's internal drive, which explains why there was no benefit to my Linux Mint flash drive. Also, on the warning message this time there weren't even "Examine" and "Ignore" buttons. Again I killed the computer with the power button (which I'm loathe to do) and returned to Ubuntu.

I assume it's the drive that contains Linux Mint 18.2 where I have to delete or remove something -- is that right? And if so, what? I can't access anything from within Linux Mint since that's toast, but using Ubuntu or another distro I can see files inside a YUMI-created folder called linuxmint-18.2-mate-64bit, including (along with a few tiny files)...
  • casper-rw, which (if my understanding is correct) contains all my settings and everything I've downloaded which I haven't put on an external drive. But there's no way to delete individual data from casper-rw, correct?
  • the Linux Mint iso file which YUMI used to create the Linux Mint portion of the flash drive. That iso file is 1660 MB, but I don't know whether it can be deleted now, nor whether that would help.
  • Somewhere there must also be a big Mozilla folder, due to all those Firefox tabs. I've found it in the root folder of Linux Mint before, and periodically backed it up, but I always had to show hidden files first. I don't recall whether I tried to find it using Ubuntu and right now, in Puppy Linux, showing hidden files reveals only a small Mozilla folder (about 40 MB) so that must be for Firefox in Puppy, not in Linux Mint, which was typically closer to 300 MB. I don't know if that's counted toward used disk space, but in any case I can't find it now, perhaps because it's on the same flash drive as Puppy, the distro I'm IN, preventing me from exploring that drive? Or maybe it's part of the casper-rw file.
I'm in a catch-22. If I can't use another distro to find and delete stuff that's preventing Linux Mint from working, is there any way to get Linux Mint up and running again? Once inside I'll be more able and motivated to find whatever stuff is cluttering up the works (like a bunch of Firefox tabs!).

Since my post is rather long, I highlighted the questions I'm seeking answers to, so nobody will have to wade through all that a second time. :) I sure would appreciate some help. I feel lost without my familiar features and the projects I was working on in my browser tabs.
Last edited by Mintstant Karma on Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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catweazel
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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by catweazel » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:39 am

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:29 am
Since my post is rather long
TL;DR

It's possible that the casper-rw file is full. You need to export your browser links then view hidden files in the home directory and delete the ~/.mozilla/ directory, which will delete your browser settings and links.

You might also want to inspect other hidden directories for files that can be removed, as well as log files in /var/log for example.
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. - Max Planck


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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:37 pm

Catweazel, I love your signature -- sad but true.

I don't know what "TL;DR" means.

How would I export my browser links? I can't get into Mint to open Firefox. But I do have a backup from a few weeks ago, which may have to do.

As mentioned above, I also cannot delete the Mozilla directory because I can't find it. I've looked for it while in Puppy Linux (as now) and while in Ubuntu. I'm guessing it may be a part of casper-rw (the one that belongs to Linux Mint) and thus would only be visible from within Linux Mint. But I welcome feedback on that hypothesis.

I'll look again but as I recall, there are almost no files other than the ones I listed in bullet points.

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Moem » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:18 pm

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:37 pm
I don't know what "TL;DR" means.
It means 'Too Long; Didn't Read'.
Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:37 pm
As mentioned above, I also cannot delete the Mozilla directory because I can't find it. I've looked for it while in Puppy Linux (as now) and while in Ubuntu. I'm guessing it may be a part of casper-rw (the one that belongs to Linux Mint) and thus would only be visible from within Linux Mint. But I welcome feedback on that hypothesis.
The .mozilla directory is a hidden directory (that's what the . does) that can usually be found inside your home directory or partition.
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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:30 pm

Oh, thanks for the definition, Moem. That explains the answers Catweazel gave. You know, we're instructed to provide details about the problem, but this is an obvious downside to that. If people aren't going to read, what good do details do? I guess I will start shorter next time and if people need more information they can ask.

As for the Mozilla directory, I know it's hidden. I know how to find it, and where -- when I'm using Linux Mint. (As mentioned, I've backed up that directory numerous times.) But since I can't use Linux Mint I have to use another distro to even see the files relevant to Linux Mint. Does that make sense? As I type this, I'm currently using Puppy Linux, and the only Mozilla directory in 'home' is absolutely not the Mozilla directory which Linux Mint created. I can tell by the vast size difference. Since my original post I've also looked again at the home directory while in Ubuntu... same story... I see a Mozilla directory there, but it's vastly smaller than the one I've always seen in Linux Mint when doing backups. So: I see no way of accessing the Mozilla directory created by Linux Mint until I can get Mint, itself up and running again.

Surely what must be happening is that only the Mozilla directory of the distro in which you are working is the one that's visible in the home directory. I hope that makes sense, and I welcome corrections if I'm wrong.

I need to know either what Linux Mint file(s) to delete while working in Puppy Linux, Ubuntu or some other distro, or how to get back into Linux Mint, where I can do some internal pruning.

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Moem » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:52 pm

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:29 am
Somewhere there must also be a big Mozilla folder, due to all those Firefox tabs. I've found it in the root folder of Linux Mint before
Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:30 pm
As I type this, I'm currently using Puppy Linux, and the only Mozilla directory in 'home' is absolutely not the Mozilla directory which Linux Mint created.
Wait, did you previously find it in root or in home?
And do your different distros share the same home?
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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:55 am

Well I guess I've been using those two terms interchangeably, and some brief research after seeing your question shows me I was wrong to do so. So now I'm not sure which it was.

But in Puppy Linux, for example, entering the root directory OR clicking the home shortcut both take me to the same place -- I see the exact same file and folder icons inside, in either case. Unlike the distro I encountered in my brief research, the home directory is NOT inside the root directory in my Puppy Linux setup. The two are identical, both in visible and hidden files. I guess I'm still not clear what the difference between root and home is, but in this distro there appears to be none.

I no longer recall exactly which buttons I clicked in Linux Mint to find the Mozilla directory, so I don't know whether it was root or home in that case. I just knew it was "high up" in the file hierarchy, for lack of the proper phrase. Maybe as high up as I could go before running out of "parent" folders, but I'm not sure.

I don't see how distros that are on separate flash drives could share the same home. Linux Mint 18.2 and Puppy Linux share a flash drive, while Ubuntu (and others) are on a different one. As for Mint and Puppy sharing a home directory, I seriously doubt it. I think that YUMI utility that created the drives keeps them separate. But to be sure I just looked again, and the Mozilla directory that's in the root/home directory of Puppy Linux is definitely too small to be the same Mozilla directory which I've seen in Linux Mint.

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Moem » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:04 am

The .mozilla folder in any installed version of Mint is always found in home/<user name> because it contains user settings. I've never used Puppy so I can't say anything useful about that. Similarly for live versions with persistence: never used, don't know.
I didn't catch that the distros were on separate drives and I'm not sure why we are talking about distros that aren't Mint and drives that aren't the one you're having a problem with... is all of this backstory?

Maybe you'd be better off rescuing your data and re"installing". Any specific reason why you're running Mint from a flash drive?
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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by catweazel » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:14 am

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:55 am
in Puppy Linux
While running from another live distro, plug in the offending flash drive and mount it. Next, issue these terminal commands:

Code: Select all

mkdir /home/$USER/casper
sudo mount -o loop /media/$USER/<path_to_casper-rw>/casper-rw /home/$USER/casper/
Where /media/$USER/<path_to_casper-rw> is the mount point of the offending USB flash device, and /casper-rw is the casper-rw to be mounted.

You should then be able to inspect and modify the contents of the casper-rw file by navigating to /home/$USER/casper/.

Issue this command to unmount it: sudo umount /home/$USER/casper
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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by BG405 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:35 am

Sorry I'm not very familiar with USB + persistance, but assuming it runs OK once you clear out some files, it's well worth a look in /var/cache/apt/archives as this can get cluttered with old packages.
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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:10 am

Moem wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:04 am
The .mozilla folder in any installed version of Mint is always found in home/<user name> because it contains user settings. I've never used Puppy so I can't say anything useful about that. Similarly for live versions with persistence: never used, don't know.
I didn't catch that the distros were on separate drives and I'm not sure why we are talking about distros that aren't Mint and drives that aren't the one you're having a problem with... is all of this backstory?
All three -- Mint, Puppy and Ubuntu -- are live versions, not installed, but suffice it to say I found the Mozilla folder, as mentioned above, even if I don't recall where. It no longer matters because it was a dead end. The Mozilla folder I need to see -- the one belonging to Linux Mint -- is evidently visible only from within Linux Mint as mentioned above.

That also answers your question about why we're talking about distros other than Mint and drives other than the one I'm having trouble with: because that's where I am. I needed some way to get online to post my question. Since I'm either in Ubuntu or Puppy, I can only see what Ubuntu or Puppy will let me see. I can explore the Linux Mint files only from one of those, or some other distro.
Moem wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:04 am

Maybe you'd be better off rescuing your data and re"installing". Any specific reason why you're running Mint from a flash drive?
If rescuing and recreating a live version -- or reinstalling -- is my only option, that's better than nothing. Why I'm running from a flash drive: It's too long a story to bother with. But I may be installing Mint sometime in the near future. For now I mostly just care about getting my open Firefox tabs back.

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Moem » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:12 am

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:10 am
The Mozilla folder I need to see -- the one belonging to Linux Mint -- is evidently visible only from within Linux Mint as mentioned above.
Yeah, that part puzzles me... as far as I know, that is not typically the case.
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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:31 am

catweazel wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:14 am

mkdir /home/$USER/casper
To be clear, that command will create a target directory in which the contents of casper-rw will be placed, correct? I already did this (without the terminal) and placed it on my external hard drive. Is that ok?

I understand the other command you gave, but the one above: is /home/$USER a shorthand way of expressing the path to the destination directory, one which you've named 'casper'? You're dealing with a tired, frustrated person with a short memory, who still has a lot to learn about Linux. I'm assuming I would just substitute the path to my external hard drive and the folder name I created? (Making sure to have no spaces between characters.)

But that's an exciting possibility; the kind of thing I was looking for. I didn't know that file could be mounted.

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:36 am

BG405 wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:35 am
Sorry I'm not very familiar with USB + persistance, but assuming it runs OK once you clear out some files, it's well worth a look in /var/cache/apt/archives as this can get cluttered with old packages.
Noted. Thanks. :-)

It would be nice if Mint would direct a user as to where to look for clutter, rather than simply say 'YOU'RE ALMOST OUT OF SPACE, DUMMY!' :wink: At least for a live user. Um, which reminds me: would I have old packages if I've never added any software or updated the kernel? (I haven't. I'm afraid to. The last time I tried that on a flash drive it really borked something.)

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by catweazel » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:40 am

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:31 am
catweazel wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:14 am

mkdir /home/$USER/casper
To be clear, that command will create a target directory in which the contents of casper-rw will be placed, correct?
No. It will create a target directory where you can access the contents of casper-rw, though it will appear that the files are in that directory.
I already did this (without the terminal) and placed it on my external hard drive. Is that ok?
Consider that one as a safe backup. Follow the instructions you've been given.
is /home/$USER a shorthand way of expressing the path to the destination directory, one which you've named 'casper'?
No. $USER will expand your user name.
But that's an exciting possibility; the kind of thing I was looking for. I didn't know that file could be mounted.
Well, now you know :)

Don't forget to look for log files in /var/log.
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. - Max Planck

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:02 am

"Consider that one as a safe backup. Follow the instructions you've been given."

Were you ever in the military? Just curious. :lol:
But you misunderstood me. I have merely created a destination folder so far. I need to get a few hours sleep and clear my head before i try this again. If I get pissed off I don't want it to ruin my sleep!

"No. $USER will expand your user name."

The reason i chose the external drive was to avoid unnecessary writes to the flash drive, and taking up unnecessary space. I'm willing to do it, but just explaining my thinking. So with your command, it will all stay on the flash drive?

"Don't forget to look for log files in /var/log."

Don't forget? It's the first I'd seen that advice, but ok. And what will that do for me? Or to put it another way: what am I hoping to find? (Trying to learn.)

I'm hitting the sack. This all-nighter crap is for younger men.............. Thanks

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by catweazel » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:06 am

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:02 am
The reason i chose the external drive was to avoid unnecessary writes to the flash drive
No worries, then operate on your backup copy.
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. - Max Planck

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by Mintstant Karma » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:40 pm

catweazel wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:06 am
No worries, then operate on your backup copy.
:? Excuse me if I sound obtuse but I don't know what "operate on" means, and there is no backup copy. Please remember you are talking to someone with only rudimentary knowledge about the Linux file system, and next to none about terminal commands.

However.... assuming you mean to go ahead and use the target directory I had already created on the external hard drive instead of creating one in the Home directory as you initially suggested, I tried that... (and I took a screenshot to post the result, but discovered I apparently can't just upload an image directly from my computer to the forum. More troubles I don't have time for). In short, I typed the following...

sudo mount -o loop /media/it/MULTIBOOT1/multiboot/linuxmint-18.2-mate-64bit/casper-rw /media/it/Seagate Backup Plus Drive/LinuxMint18_2_casper-recovery

I realize you can't check my paths, but I believe them to be correct. After I hit Enter I got multiple rows of instructions for using the mount command. :roll: I'm guessing it's because the path to the external hard drive contains spaces. Am I right?

I'm willing to do it your way, as I said above, but if I use the command "mkdir /home/$USER/casper" where will the target directory be created? In the home directory of the distro I'm currently using?

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Re: out of space on flash drive

Post by catweazel » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:47 pm

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:40 pm

Code: Select all

sudo mount -o loop /media/it/MULTIBOOT1/multiboot/linuxmint-18.2-mate-64bit/casper-rw /media/it/Seagate Backup Plus Drive/LinuxMint18_2_casper-recovery
The spaces in the path are the problem. They need to be escaped, like this:

Code: Select all

sudo mount -o loop /media/it/MULTIBOOT1/multiboot/linuxmint-18.2-mate-64bit/casper-rw /media/it/Seagate\ Backup\ Plus\ Drive/LinuxMint18_2_casper-recovery
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