Disk is full and now I can't boot into Ubuntu

I was syncing photos and videos from my phone using SyncThing onto my laptop running Ubuntu 20.04.1.
The local SSD (/dev/sda2) was completely full so after copying to an external hard disk drive I deleted them from the local drive by pressing the delete key on the keyboard. I did not empty the trash afterwards.

Some time after that I restarted the machine. Now, instead of successfully booting it got to a message

/dev/sda2: clean, 367601/15597568 files, 59266164/6238360 blocks

My guess is somehow that the filesystem is so full, that the OS is unable to do what it needs to do to successfully boot.

So I booted using the Live USB that I had originally installed from, hoping to fix the issue. Once inside the live session I was hoping to do some kind of scan or delete some files to free up space on the local SSD. Unfortunately I do no have permissions to modify the SSD contents.

Any suggestions as to what I should try?

Edit: I also saw a message along the lines of

initramfs decoding failed: unpacking failed
Asked By: feedMe


I solved my own problem with the following method.

  1. Boot from Live USB (I used the one that I originally installed my local OS from but probably any Linux live drive would work.
  2. Open a terminal.
  3. Make a new directory, let’s say mnt. mkdir mnt
  4. Mount the local drive. mount /dev/sda2 mnt
  5. Call sudo -H nautilus . and then from the Nautilus graphical interface I deleted a large file with Delete + Shift. It asked for confirmation.
  6. Since the file was deleted without going to trash, I assumed that there was now some free space and rebooted.

Voila. I am now able to boot into the OS again.

Answered By: feedMe

You only need to boot Ubuntu in Advanced Options For Ubuntu.

GRUB menu

Select an option with recovery mode

Then select the Clean – Try to make free space option.

Recovery mode options

Now, Select Resume – resume normal boot

Your computer will boot up with just enough space to clean it up fully.

Answered By: max10
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