Linux: Reclaim disk space used by “deleted” files


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I had a misbehaving application consuming a large amount of space in /tmp. The files were visible in the /tmp volume itself but lsof allowed me to identify them.

lsof -a +L1 -c s3fs /tmp
COMMAND   PID USER   FD   TYPE DEVICE  SIZE/OFF NLINK NODE NAME
s3fs    59614 root   28u   REG  253,3 584056832     0   22 /tmp/tmpfMIMLU4 (deleted)
s3fs    59614 root   29u   REG  253,3 584056832     0   15 /tmp/tmpfC3KN7h (deleted)
s3fs    59614 root   31u   REG  253,3 584056832     0   24 /tmp/tmpfkA6wcj (deleted)
s3fs    59614 root   32u   REG  253,3 584056832     0   23 /tmp/tmpfJxs04J (deleted)
s3fs    59614 root   34u   REG  253,3 584056832     0   12 /tmp/tmpfgg8Ifr (deleted)
s3fs    59614 root   35u   REG  253,3 584056832     0   27 /tmp/tmpfbR2pji (deleted)

The best way to reclaim this disk space would be to restart the application, in this case s3fs. Sadly I wasn’t in the position to be able to do this. So a little skulldugery was in need…

It’s possible to truncate the file in the proc filesystem with the pid and fd. Example below…

: > /proc/59614/fd/31 # Yes the command starts with a colon

The above example truncates the file /tmp/tmpfkA6wcj to zero bytes and releases the space to the operating system. This should be safe to use but, as always with stuff you read on the Internet, make sure you do your own testing, due diligence, keep out of reach of children and so on.

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