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Free up disk space in Ubuntu
Posted on: 2009-05-06 18:09:58

I've been installing Ubuntu exclusively on USB memory sticks, because then if Canonical suddenly decides I don't need frivolous things like sound or wifi to work properly, I can just pop in another installation and keep going. A 4GB USB drive is plenty of space, if you remove the all the junk that comes with the default Ubuntu Desktop installation.

I went through the entire package listing in Ubuntu 8.10 and figured out which packages were useless space-hogs. It is utterly astounding that for every package installed by default, someone at Canonical decided it would be more useful than VLC Media Player.

For every package installed by default, someone at Canonical decided it would be more useful than VLC media player.

Here is a magic command that will immediately save 500 MB of disk space. This is customized to my own usage, and your's may be different. In particular, I don't use openoffice or bluetooth, and I don't read Thai or Chinese.

sudo apt-get autoremove gnome-games-data thunderbird openoffice.org-help-en-us ttf-arphic-uming pidgin-data ttf-unfonts-core seahorse seahorse-plugins libsane ttf-kochi-gothic brasero totem vinagre ttf-thai-tlwg yelp listen bluez catfish xchat bluez-gnome xsane-common xchat-common 

This removes:

  • gnome games (I got bored of them in 2002)
  • Mozilla thunderbird (use gmail instead)
  • openoffice (use abiword and gnumeric instead)
  • pidgin (Some kind of huge, bloated chat client)
  • seahorse (Unless you are one of the 30 people in the world that use GnuPG encryption)
  • Thai and Chinese fonts which are particularly huge
  • vinagre (Use xtightvncviewer instead)
  • yelp (Use google instead of the GNOME help browser)
  • xsane (Because your scanner probably isn't supported.)
  • bluez (Bluetooth support)
  • totem, listen (Two of Ubuntu's many, many audio players that won't play MP3s or DVDs)
  • brasero, Gnome's broken CD burning software that makes disks that are missing long file names on Windows, even when click the box that says to support them. Use k3b instead.
  • catfish (Use 'find' instead)
  • xchat (an IRC client)
  • The Hewlett Packard printer driver, which is huge and bloated.

The "autoremove" part says that it will remove these packages, and all others that depend on them as well. For example, by listing "gnome-games-data", it will automatically remove gnome-games as well.

Disagree? Make your own list

Here's how to get a list of packages installed on your system, sorted by size.

Start synaptic package manager. Select "Filter" from the "Settings Menu". Create a new filter, and call it "installed". Deselect all options, and then put a check mark beside "Installed". Click OK

Select "Preferences" from the "Settings Menu". Under the "Columns and Fonts" tab, make sure "Installed size" has a checkmark beside it.

Now you can get a listing of the most bloated packages, sorted by size. Go through them and "Mark for Complete Removal" any applications that you don't use. If in doubt, leave it in. If it prompts you, don't be afraid of removing "ubuntu-desktop". This is just an empty "meta-package", and its absence won't affect your system. However, you should avoid removing anything that would also remove "gnome-panel".

Or you can record their name and make a command that you can use on other systems, as I have above.

Still short on space?

Try compressing your /usr folder to save about a gigabyte.

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2009-05-16 19:00:12
yea you were right about thunderbird i dont need for a start.seahorse what the hell is that for just saved 8073 kb by removing that.about 10 years ago i needed Xchat great post


2009-06-02 08:45:21
Agreeing on: fonts, games, vinaigre, bluez, brasero.

Not agreeing on:

Seahorse -- useless? What alternative do you use to exchange confidential emails?

Pidgin -- I think it's quite useful as you can connect to many networks and don't need to run different client simultaneously.

Thunderbird -- Do you really feel fine with a company like Google storing your mail? And with not having a local copy of it?

Steve Hanov

2009-06-24 09:28:21
I have never sent encrypted emails, and I doubt anybody I know would be able to receive them.

After a lot of thought, I decided that Google would probably take better care of my data than I can. It is time consuming to organize and backup all my files regularly on my own. I could use an online service to do it, but then I am back where I started. So I might as well store my emails on Google.


2009-06-28 09:45:29
why on earth r u using ubuntu if u r gonna remove more 500 mb? .. why not try archlinux or maybe crunchbang, an ubuntu-based distro


2009-06-28 15:23:54
You coud use a good IM client like Gajim that talks XMPP and Jabber instead (for instance to all that uses GMail).

There is lots of transports, if you don't set it up yourself, that can be used to talk to ICQ, MSN etc.

The good part is you can be logged into the Jabber from many places at the same time, like home and work. And also to the other nets.

So. Pidgin is not that good.


2009-07-22 03:52:25
I agree on open office help and pidgin. I use kopete now. Pidgin was the one thing that ruined my work day everyday til I snuffed out that stupid purple beast.

At this point, I should probably add I use Suse.

Btw isn't puppy linux also good if you want something faster?

Zed Lopez

2009-08-28 15:01:38
Or, start with an Ubuntu CLI install and add what you actually need. Despite emacs-snapshot-gtk, openoffice writer and spreadsheet, firefox, wine, my work machine's installation has yet to break 10GB after about a year.

Md. Niloy Rahman

2010-04-14 15:04:27
Please Send a free Ubuntu cd

Gergely Takacs

2010-09-27 01:24:22
Excellent write-up thanks... Good ideas for a Linux novice, using Ubuntu on a 4GB SSD (eee PC)...


2010-10-29 08:18:46
thanks for the idea...


2010-10-29 09:48:27
Hi i removed some of the softwares I thought I wont need... and then I couldn't log into my gnome desktop. then did sudo apt-get install gnome-desktop-environment.

now again did sudo apt-get autoremove .....

i saw it was removing gnome-desktop-environment !

yet to restart and see if I encounter the same problem, I am worried.. :(


2010-10-29 09:55:12
ohh.. :) thanks. worked. didn't loose my gnome-desktop this time. If it is of any help: for the first time, i did it through synaptic package manager and selected complete removal...

next time through sudo apt-get autoremove...


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