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Analyse disk usage in any Gnome environment

Fabio MarzoccaFreelancer
Users are often faced with high disk consumption without really knowing where the largest amount of data resides.

Disk Usage Analyzer (aka Baobab) is is a graphical, menu-driven application to analyse disk usage in any Gnome environment and can easily scan either the whole filesystem tree, or a specific user-requested directory branch (local or remote). It also provides a full graphical treemap window and a ringschart for each selected folder.

Disk Usage Analyzer is part of the gnome-utils package and comes with any Gnome installation.

Disk Usage Analyzer can be started in three ways:
[step="" title=""] 1. from Gnome menu Applications->Accessories.

If launched from Gnome menu, Disk Usage Analyzer starts and remains in a stand-by state, waiting for user action.
  baobab window[/step][step="" title=""] 2. from a terminal window.

If you want to start Disk Usage Analyzer from a terminal window, just type:
baobab <full_path_to_a_directory>

Open in new window

then press Return.
[/step][step="" title=""] 3. from Nautilus "Open with...".

Once launched, to start a full filesystem scan select Analyzer->Scan Filesystem from the menu, or press on the Scan Filesystem toolbar button.
If you run a full filesystem scan, Disk Usage Analyzer window will start drawing the tree as soon as the thread starts scanning the filesystem. If any large partition is mounted on the filesystem, that will be scanned too.
When the scanning process ends up, you will get the full tree of your filesystem, like the one in the next Figure.
  Full scan
Disk Usage Analyzer will display sizes in the directory tree as allocated space. This means that the displayed sizes refer to the actual disk usage and not to the apparent directory size. If you want to view the apparent file size, uncheck View->Allocated Space .

Disk Usage Analyzer will not count the /proc dir, nor any file size that is not related to a "plain" file, so symlinks, character blocks, device blocks will not be part of the directory size. Hard-links are managed in a different way: the first hardlink is counted as a normal file, while the subsequent links to the same inode device are not counted in the total, but highlighted in the right-hand column of the window.

To start a single folder scan select Analyzer->Scan Folder... from the menu, or press on the Scan Folder toolbar button. If you need to scan a remote server-folder, just click on the toolbar icon Scan Remote Folder or select Analyzer->Scan Remote Folder from the menu and you will get a dialog box to connect to a server through ssh, ftp, smb, http and https.

In the first part of the Preferences window, all detected mounted devices are listed. Click on the checkbox to include/exclude the partition into the filesystem scanning operations. The device mounted on "/" cannot be excluded from the scan.

The Ringschart is composed of a set of nested rings around a central circle. This circle symbolizes the root folder of the partial tree (that is, the folder that the user has selected for scanning). Each ring represents a level in the partial tree, so, i.e., the subfolders of the root folder will be represented in the first ring, and deeper levels in the tree correspond to outer rings in the chart. Each subfolder is represented by a sector of the ring, its angle being proportional to the size of the folder's contents, and painted with a different color to ease visualization. Up to five levels can be drawn; in case that a folder in that last fifth level contains even more subfolders, this situation will be pointed by the presence of a black curve close to the edge of that folder's ring sector. When a folder with no further subfolders is selected to be the root of the partial tree, only the inner circle will be drawn. When the mouse pointer hovers one of the folders in the graphic, it will be highlighted and a tooltip will appears with information about its name and size. If there are any subfolders, small grey tooltips will appear, indicating their names. It's possible that not all of the subfolders' names are displayed, to avoid overlappings.

It's easy to understand that the size of a folder is equal or smaller than its parent's. Although only directories are shown in this graphical representation, files are taken into account to calculate the amount of space occupied by folders.

Disk Usage Analyzer is a fast and user-friendly graphical tool to check how data is spread over a hard disk, in all Gnome environments. It scans local and remote partitions giving the user an immediate visual feedback by means of a detailed ringschart and a treemap. Even hidden folders are scanned and reported, discovering where large amounts of data is stored. With a right-click, the user can open the folders or move them to trash. A very nice tool to have as part of your gnome tool-kit.

Why this strange codename Baobab? Baobabs are huge African trees – so that’s a real nice name for a tool investigating through directory trees!
Fabio MarzoccaFreelancer

Comments (2)

Most Valuable Expert 2015

I've had a look at this in the meantime, and it looks good.

EE ZA Storage

Nice one.

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