Cannot start graphical session when disk is full (and Ubuntu does not warn about this fact)

Bug #610358 reported by YannUbuntu on 2010-07-27
This bug affects 8 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
gnome-disk-utility (Ubuntu)
Declined for Maverick by Sebastien Bacher

Bug Description

Binary package hint: gnome-disk-utility

How to reproduce :
- start long operations filling disk space, for example big downloads or DVD rip, etc..
- Ubuntu (gnome-disk-utility/gdu-notification-daemon) pop ups messages warning that the disk has few space left, and proposes to empty trash. Remark : if the user has left his computer he will not see all these messages.
- when disk is full (less than ~10Mo, I did not check exactly), log out your session, or restart your computer

Result : it is IMPOSSIBLE to start a graphical session (Gnome, KDE, Lubuntu, Openbox, Gnome backup session...), and there is no explanation about it in GDM.
The only one working is the xterm session, which is not understandable by non-technical users.

Propositions of improvement :
- In a short term : warn the user (via gdu-notification-daemon pop-up windows for example) that "Ubuntu may not work properly (impossible to start a graphical session... ) if the disk is full or nearly full". We can also add a "More information" button explaining the technical reason (need to write in /tmp ...).
- In a medium term : find a way (quotas?) to ensure that the users can always start a graphical session

Another (dirty IMHO) solution is : prevent applications such as file managers, P2P, ripping applications, from filling all disk space. Or make them warn the user about possible risks.

Discussion on ubuntu-fr forum :

YannUbuntu (yannubuntu) on 2010-07-30
tags: added: disk full gui warn
YannUbuntu (yannubuntu) on 2010-08-28
description: updated
YannUbuntu (yannubuntu) on 2010-08-30
description: updated
description: updated
YannUbuntu (yannubuntu) on 2010-08-30
summary: - Full disk prevents from starting a graphical session (and Ubuntu does
- not warn)
+ Cannot start graphical session when disk is full (and Ubuntu does not
+ warn/explain)

This issue is not related to Transmission. It's "related to" Transmission in the same sense that it's related to *every* gui application.

Changed in transmission:
status: New → Invalid
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

gnome-disk-utility should already be warning about space use

Changed in gnome-disk-utility (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Low
YannUbuntu (yannubuntu) wrote :

@charles: thank you for your answer, I understand your point.

@Sebastien : thank you for your answer. Is gdu-notification-daemon controled by gnome-disk-utility ? (if not i don't understand your remark..)

Currently, gdu-notification-daemon pop-up is only :
- "displaying information" : xxx Mo are remaining on disk
- "giving tip" : you can free some space by deleting files/applications or moving them to another disk.
- "proposing" 1 tool that shows Mo/folder : disk analyser

it does not currently "warn" about consequences. This is the 1st point that should be improved. And that is an easy improvement : just adding text in gdu-notification-daemon's pop-up if the full volume is / :

"WARNING ! Ubuntu may not work properly (bugs, impossible to start a graphical session ... ) because the volume <<root file system>> only has 18Mio of free space left. ["More details" button].
Please free disk space. A minimum of xxx Mio free space on this volume is recommended.
You can free space by ... (rest is same as currently)

Hope this helps.

Tamarou (clapas) wrote :

This bug affects me too

YannUbuntu (yannubuntu) wrote :

For information, 3 French users were affected in this thread :

alban (dieteticien) wrote :

I am one of the French about which YannUbuntu speak.
I have use Ubuntu (NoteBook) to back up a large file (image disc of my iMac) before Holidays
I have a warning.
I think "too small disk space" or something like that.
But I am not blocked to continue.
When I want to start again a few days later: error of manager of energy.
Not easy to establish the link, when there is not one.
Fortunately that the forum is here for me.

(Sorry for my English)


Changed in gnome-disk-utility:
importance: Unknown → Medium
status: Unknown → New
Changed in gnome-disk-utility:
importance: Medium → Wishlist
Nicolas Estrangin (n-estrangin) wrote :

This bug affected me too. I made a first backup with Grsync. Afterwards, I saw some warning messages informing me that little disk space was remaining. I didn't understand why first, until I had to search for the reason when I couldn't enter my Gnome session. At that time, it was asked me to log in while turning on the computer, together with a warning message about my "GNOME energy manager" ("gestionnaire d'énergie" in French) that was uncorrectly installed on my computer.

I recovered my Gnome session when I could definitely erase the three folders (.ful) containing, among other light files, compacted files (.tgz) issued, I think, from Grsync that couldn't copy backups to my external hardware because it was not linked to my computer. But this is not the problem here...
I could erase those files reaching them through the installation CD.

In my case, it has not been possible even to log in the xterm session.


Florent Mertens (givre) on 2011-01-09
Changed in disk-manager:
status: New → Invalid
Changed in gnome-disk-utility (Ubuntu):
status: New → Triaged
Dmitry Diskin (diskin) wrote :

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote on 2010-09-02: #2
> gnome-disk-utility should already be warning about space use

- yes, in my case a kid was "working" on computer and obviously ignored the warning, while torrent download filled up the disk.

YannUbuntu (yannubuntu) on 2011-08-02
summary: Cannot start graphical session when disk is full (and Ubuntu does not
- warn/explain)
+ warn about this fact)
YannUbuntu (yannubuntu) on 2012-10-22
no longer affects: disk-manager
Changed in gnome-disk-utility:
status: New → Expired
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