Freeing Drive Space


Jarret W. Buse

Freeing Drive Space

It is said that the Linux OS cleans itself. Well, to an extent. The Linux OS can hold on to files which are not needed and eventually disk space can be reduced. So what to do? Free the space for your use.

A large portion of files to clear out is the unneeded cache files of various applications. Usually the biggest cache space hogs is the browser. For anyone who may have multiple browsers installed on their system, this can be an even larger amount.

Another thing to remove are files which now obsolete. Installer programs, like Synaptic, have an entry for obsolete and removable programs. The “Auto Removable” listing is for dependencies which still remain. When applications are installed all dependencies required are also installed. When the application is removed, the dependencies may remain. These dependencies may then be removed. The entry for “Local or Obsolete” are programs which have been installed locally and not through the installer. The obsolete files are those which were installed through a repository which can no longer be contacted to determine if there are updates for the program.

So, what can be used to clear all of these items and more to free space?

A nice utility call Bleachbit can be used to free up space. Bleachbit can be retrieved and installed from your package installer or downloaded from If you download the program from the website, there are packages for the following distros:

  • CentOS 6
  • CentOS 7
  • Debian 6 (Squeeze)
  • Debian 7 (Wheezy)
  • Fedora 17 (Beefy Miracle)
  • Fedora 18 (Spherical Cow)
  • Fedora 19 (Schrodinger's Cat)
  • Fedora 20 (Heisenbug)
  • RHEL 6
  • RHEL 7
  • Linux Mint 17 (Qiana)
  • Linux Mint 17.1 (Rebecca)
  • SLE 11
  • Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx)
  • Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)
  • Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin)
  • Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal)
  • Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail)
  • Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander)
  • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr)
  • Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn)
  • openSUSE 11.4
  • openSUSE 12.1
  • openSUSE 12.2
  • openSUSE 12.3
  • openSUSE 13.1
  • openSUSE 13.2
Once installed, the program can be run normally or with Root privileges. It may be best to not run with Root privileges to be assured that required files are not removed which may cause Linux to become unstable.

After Bleachbit is started, you can change the configuration settings. After the settings are set and the window is closed, Bleachbit will display a listing of the installed applications in its left pane. Under each applications is a sub-listing of available options for that program. For example, APT shows a sub-listing of autoclean, autoremove, clean and package lists. APT can be selected as a whole with all sub-items, or each sun-item can be selected individually.

Items can be selected and then the “Preview” button can be clicked to get a preview of what files are found to be removed. A summary of the space to be freed and the number of files to be deleted will be shown at the end of the report in the right pane. If you accept the list to be removed, click on the “Clean” button to free the space. If you did not start with Root privileges, you may receive errors if files are attempted to be removed which require Root privileges.

Options can be set to “Shred” deleted files. Shredding for Bleachbit is overwriting the file with blank data including the slack space at the end of the file. Slack space is the empty space not filling a sector at the end of a file. The filename is renamed to a long filename and then a short one. The file is then deleted.

NOTE: Overwriting the file once is as secure as writing over the file many times.

Keep in mind that using the Shredding option causes the removal of the files to take longer than a simple deletion.

Another option is to “Wipe Free Space”. This option will take all the unused space on the drive and write blank data on it. By doing this, any files which have previously been deleted will be “Shredded”.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is to select the option to “Download and update cleaners from community (winapp2.ini)”. When Bleachbit is set to download the file, the program must be closed and reopened to allow the file to be downloaded. Once downloaded, the program should be stopped and started again to allow the changes to take effect. Once in effect, Bleachbit will then be able to scan for more programs to clear data from for more free drive space.

There are numerous ways to clear free data on a system. If anyone has another utility they use or another suggestion, please leave a comment below.


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Please note that using Bleachbit is considered dangerous by many users.
How so Ryan?
Bleachbit tends to remove more files than you want. Most users don't bother to look at the file list when you click preview and that causes problems. If you use BleachBit properly then you should be fine but too many people don't read everything...
Bleachbit tends to remove more files than you want. Most users don't bother to look at the file list when you click preview and that causes problems. If you use BleachBit properly then you should be fine but too many people don't read everything...
That is a point well taken. I've noticed it on the Windows version that there are cleaners that I'd be very skeptical of using. I've used it with no problems in Linux, but then again I did my due diligence and researched it before I installed it which you're right, not many people do.