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How tmp directory is cleaned

📅 2017-Nov-06 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 🏷️ tmp, tmpfs, tmpreaper ⬩ 📚 Archive

The /tmp directory in Linux is where temporary files and directories are created by applications. If you did not do anything special during installation, it will be a directory under the root directory partition and hence has the same filesystem as that of the root filesystem. If you specifically created a partition for /tmp, then it might be of the tmpfs filesystem type.

If the root partition is running out of space, you might want to check how big tmp directory is:

$ cd /tmp
$ du --summarize .

On my Ubuntu, I find that tmp directory is cleaned up only at the time of system startup or reboot. The init scripts in /etc/rcS.d check the TMPTIME value set in /etc/default/rcS. This value indicates which files and directories in the tmp directory are up for deletion.

You can change this TMPTIME value to your preference:

You will notice that the tmp directory is cleaned up only when you reboot the system. If you want a periodic cleanup of the tmp directory, then use the tmpreaper tool as described here. Tried with: Ubuntu 14.04