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System Administration Guide: Advanced Administration
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Using Quotas

Once quotas are in place, they can be changed to adjust the amount of disk space or the number of inodes that users can consume. Additionally, quotas can be added or removed as system needs change. For instructions on changing quotas or the amount of time that quotas can be exceeded, disabling individual quotas, or removing quotas from file systems, see Changing and Removing Quotas.

In addition, quota status can be monitored. Quota commands enable administrators to display information about quotas on a file system, or search for users who have exceeded their quotas. For procedures that describe how to use these commands, see Checking Quotas.

Setting Soft Limits and Hard Limits for Quotas

You can set both soft limits and hard limits. The system does not allow a user to exceed his or her hard limit. However, a system administrator might set a soft limit, which the user can temporarily exceed. The soft limit must be less than the hard limit.

Once the user exceeds the soft limit, a quota timer begins. While the quota timer is ticking, the user is allowed to operate above the soft limit but cannot exceed the hard limit. Once the user goes below the soft limit, the timer is reset. However, if the user's usage remains above the soft limit when the timer expires, the soft limit is enforced as a hard limit. By default, the soft limit timer is set to seven days.

The timeleft field in the repquota and quota commands shows the value of the timer.

For example, let's say a user has a soft limit of 10,000 blocks and a hard limit of 12,000 blocks. If the user's block usage exceeds 10,000 blocks and the seven-day timer is also exceeded, the user cannot allocate more disk blocks on that file system until his or her usage drops below the soft limit.

The Difference Between Disk Block and File Limits

A file system provides two resources to the user, blocks for data and inodes for files. Each file consumes one inode. File data is stored in data blocks. Data blocks are usually made up of 1Kbyte blocks.

Assuming no directories exist, a user can exceed his or her inode quota by creating all empty files without using any blocks. A user can also use one inode, yet exceed his or her block quota, by creating one file that is large enough to consume all the data blocks in the user's quota.

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