Audacity filling up the /var/tmp directory in Ubuntu 14.10


As per the title really…

I installed Audacity 2.0.5-2ubuntu2 on my laptop yesterday. Today I have been encounteing problems downloading files from the internet, and after a bit of investigation the root directory is full. Further investigation revealed that there is a folder in /var/tmp called audacity-andrew which has a Project folder with nearly 7000 items in a folder called e00.

This is almost certainly my problem. I don’t want this project - can i just delete these folders and files, or will this mess the system up?



In Audacity, File > Close and say “No” “to Save Changes?” - as long as you understand that work will then be lost permanently. Then you will have an empty workspace with no temp file usage.

Or File > Quit and answer “Save Changes” the same way.

Be aware that Audacity by default uses 20 MB of space per minute for stereo audio and that much again for each edit of the complete project. So 7 GB is not all that much spare space unless you close temporary projects you don’t want to keep.

If you save the projects then disk space will be used at a default of 20 MB per minute for stereo, but only for the actual audio you see (there is no Undo/Redo in a newly saved project).



Thank you for your reply, which made perfect sense. I tried to load t (rather large, 6h duration) .mp3 file with a view to chopping out the 2 hours that I wanted. The loading did not go well, and the system hung after several minutes and I had to “force quit” Audacity.

Today, I tried to start the program again. It protested a bit, but did load. I then shut it down and it deleted a lot of temporary files, and I got my 7GB back!

Once again,thanks for your help. I hadn’t realised that Audacity was such a memory hog! Rather annoyingly, I installed the program on the W8.1 partition of my laptop (which has rather more disc space than the Ubuntu partition) and it seemed to work fine…


It isn’t really a “memory hog”.
Firstly, the problem you had is related to disk space, not memory.
Secondly, to perform anything more than very basic audio editing, the audio data must be uncompressed. Even at standard 16 bit 44100 Hz audio quality, that requires about 10 MB per minute of audio. By default Audacity works with 32 bit float format because that provides better quality processing, so that works out as about 20 MB per minute of audio. To allow operations to be undone, any data that is changed must keep a temporary copy of previous state so that you can “undo” and go back to that data.

Working with audio requires a lot of disk space (not as much as video production, but still quite a lot). There really is no way round that unless Audacity was limited to only very basic editing at low quality audio without the ability to undo, but that would not be a very good audio editor.

OK, fair comment.

It’s the wrong approach anyway, not just for speed and disk space reasons (importing the file as 32-bit float PCM) but because you will lose quality (the MP3 will be re-encoded and any MP3 encoding is lossy).

If you only want to do a split of what you want to keep, there are “direct” MP3 editors that can operate on the file without re-encoding it. There is mp3splt for Linux or you can use MP3DirectCut which is for Windows, but if you install WINE you can also run it on Linux. See Missing features - Audacity Support.

You can also make volume adjustments (in 1.5 dB increments) using MP3DirectCut.

If you want to use filters like Equalization, then you must expand the MP3 to PCM and so must use a tool like Audacity that re-encodes the MP3.


ever heard of symlinking?

don’t know if you can do this in ubuntu but I do this in puppy linux all the time as it loads into ram and then also uses the available disc space pretty quickly. with puppy you can just simply symlink any space hoggers like /var/tmp and /usr/bin etc to /mnt/home but I guess this wont work in ubuntu as you dont have the sfs file heirarchy, I think?
an alternative is to just mount an ext hdd and move /var/tmp to the top most directy of your ext hdd for example: /mnt/sdb1
when the dialogue box pops after you have selected(clicked, held and dragged to appropriate dir) up with your options choose
“link relative” and hit return. if your file handler does not give you these options open a terminal and type the necessary commands that would carry out the above mentioned. I’m sorry my knowledge of shell scripts is very limited and I have not yet learned how to symlink via the terminal but I am sure if you ask nicely someone else who does know will be able to help you. please accept my apologies for any false information here, I am merely going on personal experience and don’t know for sure if they apply to ubuntu.

PS the other more common sense ting to do as well is open audacity select: edit > select: preferences> select: recording and then in the right pane navigate by pressing the … button to a suitable directory example: /mnt/sdb1 or whatever and then open and return.
mine usually remembers this but if yours doesnt you will just have to do this each time you start audacity. its not ideal but its a quick fix. :wink:

my apologies I double checked on the wiki as I have not used audacity in a while as per my incorrect instructions of:
its actually: preferences>>Directories>>Choose… Button and then follow the rest of my instructions so as to make sure
your internal disc space is not eaten up. this is also very helpful if you are trying to record streaming audio.

heres a screen shot from the wiki

Yes, the recommended (and simplest) way to change the location of Audacity’s temp folder is to change it in the Audacity Preferences.
As it says in the manual page that you linked to:
Accessed by: Edit > Preferences > Directories

However, be aware that for reliable recording and playback the temp folder needs to be on a reasonably quick, and definitely reliable, drive.
Putting the temp directory on a network drive is likely to cause problems because of network delays.
A USB drive may work OK, but is not recommended - it’s not so much a matter of transfer speed as a question of access speed for lots of small (1 MB) data files.
For reliable recording and playback the temp folder should really be on an internal drive (A SCSI or Firewire drive would probably be OK if you happen to have one).

To avoid a similar problem I have installed an additional hard drive for Audacity and other large files. I am using Ubuntu 14.04 and Audacity 2.0.5. I am trying to set the directory for the new drive using Edit - Preferences - Difrectories in Audacity. Although I can see and select a directory I get an error. The error is “Free Space: unavailable - above location doesn’t exist”. I have searched the web for help and have not found anything that works to solve this. Audacity will freely make new directories on the drive on which the program is installed but will not do so on the new drive (format FAT).

Audacity always says that when you use “Choose…” to browse to another drive. Try just going on from there by pressing OK then saying Yes when Audacity asks if you want to create the new temp directory.


Thank you. Audacity wants to create a subdirectory /.audacity_temp/. For some reason Ubuntu does not like that name and it will not work (perhaps the period). This morning I tried just backspacing and deleting that portion of the directory name and now it works. So I have a drive on which I created a directory for Audacity. When selecting that directory, Audacity wanted to append a subdirectory with a name Ubuntu does not like. In the “choose” location in Audacity, I simply deleted the .audacity_temp/ and the location was then recognized. Thanks for your sugestion. Problem SOLVED :smiley:

I’m glad it’s solved.

To clarify, the period (dot) merely means a “hidden” file or folder. If you use Nautilus as your file manger you won’t see hidden files or folders unless you turn that feature on.

You should be able to press “Choose…”, select somewhere in your Home folder, Open, then as you say, Audacity adds “/.audacity-temp/” to the end of the folder path. Assuming you could write to your Home folder as you should be able to, you can press OK and OK again to create the /.audacity-temp folder, then restart Audacity for the change to take effect.

You won’t be able to create any folder in a system location like /usr/ when you run Audacity as a standard user. Unfortunately, running Audacity as a standard user then trying to create a folder in a location you don’t have permission to write to just goes round in a circle instead of telling you that it can’t create the folder. :frowning: Was that what happened to you?

By the way, if the drive you are using is an external USB drive, it’s not a good idea to use that as the Audacity temp folder location if you are recording. USB drives tend not to be fast enough for that. They are safe otherwise but you may find import, editing and exporting slower than on a local drive.