Hi !

Have you ever wondered a different way of getting Disk usage stats? Are you tired of using commands like “df -h”, “du -hs”, combining with several other ones in pipe?

What if I tell you that there is an easier way to find out where your free space is going?

It’s time to check NCDU project out ! 

NCDU stands for NCurse Disk Usage which is Linux program that displays Disk usage statistics in a Ncurse menu, which makes things easier where you don’t know exactly where to start – Giving you a good overview and letting you know where is the bottom of disk space issues.

For Windows administrators I highly recommend a tool called WinDirStat, which magnificently shows you a beautiful and dynamic colored picture that points you where are the biggest data in disk.

Back on NCDU, you can quickly install it using your yum* (Red Hat distros) or apt-get (Debian distros) as follows:

# apt-get install ncdu
# yum install ncdu

NCDU is not available in Red Hat default repo as far as I concern, however you can easily find using EPEL repository

Let’s get started: Open your shell and run the command below

# ncdu /

This will make NCDU analyses all directories in Linux and will display a simple menu with readable results thereafter. Follow below an example generated by NCDU analyzing a random folder in my VM:

Linux disk usage statistics

Linux disk usage statistics

Note that the biggest folder appears on top which facilitates for troubleshooting :)

By default, NCDU 1.6 is installed when you use apt-get/yum, so you can download the latest version 1.9 and compile it, hence you will end up having useful options like output results to a file 😉

On saying that, before you start compiling the software you must have curse development libraries which you can get issuing the command below:

# apt-get install libncurses5-dev
# yum install ncurses-devel

Then, extract the software downlodade and compile it using the default options:

# ./configure –prefix=/usr && make && make install

Running the NCDU command again you will note a slight change as follow:

NCDU 1.9 - Better disk usage stats

NCDU 1.9 – Better disk usage stats

By now, you should have new options in NCDU, so we can now scan /usr/lib directories and generate a report to a specified file:

# ncdu /usr/lib -o disk-usage.txt

If you have a look at this file you will see that there are loads of information that it may seems complicated to understand at a first glance. But, for your relief this file will be used by NCDU to display that same NCurse menu with all data collected previously.

# ncdu -f disk-usage.txt

As a last tip, you can create a crontab to generate reports whenever you wish, compress them in a folder and then whenever suits opening them with ncdu for further analysis. Follow below a script as an excerpt that can be added as a cron job later on:

# This is a simple script that generate compressed NCDU reports based on date

# Variables
DATE=$(date +”%d-%m-%Y”)

nice -n15 ncdu -qxo- / | gzip > /tmp/disk_report-${DATE}.gz

# END of script

Basically this script generates a report of all Linux directories and compress using GZIP command, which generates a file called disk_report based on actual date. You can use one command line to decompress and view the report as follow:

# zcat /tmp/disk_report-17-04-2013.gz | ncdu -f –

A complete manual with examples and some screenshots can be found in the official page:


Happy troubleshooting then!