Disk quotas

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Disk quotas can be implemented by a system administrator as a way to manage restrictions on storage for users or groups of users.

Disk quotas allow the administrator to balance storage resources so that it is possible to manage finite capacity in a suitable way. An example of disk quotas in use would be, for example, a web hosting provider that allocates a certain amount of disk storage space per customer, or to limit certain users from consuming the full resources of the file-system, thereby preventing the file-system filling up and starving other users or the system of storage. There are two types of restrictions that can be put in place, one is inode which controls the number of files/directories, and block which can restrict based on storage blocks (size). When set limits are reached, it is possible to notify the system administrator or user consuming the resources in question, informing them to take appropriate action.

GFS2, XFS, Btrfs and some other filesystems use their own quota system. This document only covers Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, JFS, ocfs2, and reiserfs file systems which are supported by the sys-fs/quota package.



Kernel support is required for disk quotas, if support for journaled quotas is required, the option "Quota formats vfsv0 and vfsv1 support" also needs to be enabled.

KERNEL Enable support for disk quotas
File systems  --->
  [*] Quota support
  [*] Report quota messages through netlink interface
  [ ] Print quota warnings to console (OBSOLETE)
  <*> Quota format vfsv0 and vfsv1 support

USE flags

USE flags for sys-fs/quota Linux quota tools

ldap Add LDAP support (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)
netlink Compile daemon receiving quota messages via netlink
nls Add Native Language Support (using gettext - GNU locale utilities)
rpc Enable quota interaction via RPC
selinux !!internal use only!! Security Enhanced Linux support, this must be set by the selinux profile or breakage will occur
tcpd Add support for TCP wrappers


root #emerge --ask sys-fs/quota



To enable quotas, some configuration is required by editing /etc/fstab and enabling usrquota and/or grpquota in the options for each file-system upon which quotas need to be managed. For journaled quota support, add the mount options jqfmt. Additional information regarding /etc/fstab and filesystem (quota) options can be found by referring to the mount(8) man page. Quotas are set and edited by the quota tools which manage configuration files located in the root of each file-system named aquota.user, and aquota.group for new quota version formats and quota.user, quota.group for older formats.

root #$EDITOR /etc/fstab
FILE /etc/fstab
# <DEV>    <MNTPOINT> <FSTYPE> <MNTOPTIONS>                     <DUMP> <PASS>
# example line for just usrquota support
/dev/sda8  /mnt/eg1   ext4     noatime,usrquota                      0 2
# example line for grpquota 
/dev/sda9  /mnt/eg2   ext4     noatime,grpquota                      0 2
# example line for usrquota, grpquota and journaled quota support
/dev/sda10 /home      ext4     noatime,usrquota,grpquota,jqfmt=vfsv0 0 2

After /etc/fstab has been edited accordingly, the file-systems need to be remounted. Repeat the following mount command example below for every file-system that has been edited and enabled for quotas.

root #mount -o remount /home

Group quotas (local system)

This is incomplete and needs improvement

It is possible to apply quotas to groups of users, if this is desired a group has to be present on the system to assign the quota to. This creates a new group quotagroup and adds two users to the group, assuming there are already users alice and bob. For creating new users and groups please refer to Complete_Handbook/Configuring_the_system#User_account and Knowledge_Base:Adding_a_user_to_a_group.

root #groupadd quotagroup
root #gpasswd --add alice quotagroup
root #gpasswd --add bob quotagroup

Creating the quota files

After /etc/fstab has been edited, the quota files need to be created with the quotacheck(8) command and the -c or --create-files option. The following command creates the quota files as necessary for user and group quotas on the /home filesystem.

root #quotacheck --user --group --create-files /home

Enabling quotas

Gentoo provides an init script to run quotacheck and initialize quotas when the system starts. The file /etc/conf.d/quota can be edited and customized to provide different parameters to the quotacheck(8) and quotaon(8) commands if necessary.

root #$EDITOR /etc/conf.d/quota
FILE /etc/conf.d/quota
# /etc/conf.d/quota: config file for /etc/init.d/quota

# Note: if your console is hooked up to a serial terminal,
# you prob want to drop the '-v' from the OPTS vars below.

# Run quotacheck ?

# Options for quotacheck

# Options for quotaon

# Options for quotaoff

After doing any customization to the /etc/conf.d/quota file, it's time to start the quota system. The following commands start the quota init script and adds it to the runlevel to persist when the system reboots.

root #/etc/init.d/quota start
root #rc-update add quota default

Checking if quotas are enabled

To make sure whether quotas are enabled or not, the following command can be executed.

root #quotaon --print-state --all
group quota on /home (/dev/sda10) is on
user quota on /home (/dev/sda10) is on

Environment variables



/etc/quotagrpadmins /etc/quotatab


The following procedures describe startup and general usage of the tools to administer quotas.


The Linux quota tools contain several commands to create and manage filesystem quotas. The following are some basic examples of putting the tools to use.

Init scripts

Gentoo provides an init script to check quotas and turn quotas on and off. Using the Gentoo init scripts are preferred over using quotaon / quotaoff manually unless it's known what is really being done.

Starting quotas through the Gentoo init script

root #/etc/init.d/quota start

Stopping quotas through the Gentoo init script

root #/etc/init.d/quota stop


Displaying summaries of quotas for filesystems

root #repquota -a


Setting disk quotas on the command line is accomplished with the setquota(8) command. From the man page the usage states <block-softlimit> <block-hardlimit> <inode-softlimit> <inode-hardlimit> as parameters to be passed when setting quotas, these need to be balanced according to requirements. To unset a quota limit the value can be set at 0 (zero).

To calculate the amount of blocks per GB a command similar to the following can be used, replace 32 with the required GB for the quotas to be set if it's required to limit based on block (size) usage.

user $awk '/BLOCK_SIZE[[:blank:]]/{print 32 * $3 ** 2}' /usr/include/sys/mount.h

Once the inode and block values have been decided, a quota can now be set. The following command sets a soft limit of 30GB, a hard limit of 32GB and removes inode limits for user alice on the /home file-system.

The parameters needs to be researched and tweaked according to requirements just like every other command, do not attempt copy and paste this example just changing the user and file-system or the user in question may be complaining very soon!
root #setquota -u alice 31457280 33554432 0 0 /home


Editing user or group quotas is accomplished with the edquota(8) command, the user or group to be edited, and -a for all filesystems or specify the filesystem with the -f option. The following command will edit the quotas for user bob on the /home filesystem. The set EDITOR will be opened to begin editing quotas.

root #edquota -f /home bob
Disk quotas for user bob (uid 1006):
  Filesystem    blocks       soft       hard     inodes     soft     hard
  /dev/sda10        28          0          0         11        0        0

Changing the values allows placing soft or hard limits on the amount of blocks or inodes for user bob, exiting the EDITOR and saving the file will apply the specified quotas.


Querying quota statistics

root #quotastats

quotaon & quotaoff

The quotaon(8) and quotaoff(8) can be run when the system starts and shuts down by the Gentoo init scripts, these are just examples to show how the tools can be used.

Turning on filesystem quotas for all filesystems

root #quotaon -a

Turning off filesystem quotas for all filesystems

root #quotaoff -a


Displaying users disk usage and limits is accomplished with the quota(1) command.

user $quota


Turning off quotas

The quotas for each filesystem should be turned off before removal and removed from the runlevel.

root #/etc/init.d/quota stop
root #rc-update del quota default

Removing configuration

To clean up the system if quotas are not required any more perform the following steps

Edit /etc/fstab and remove quota options for filesystems

Remove the aquota.user, and aquota.group or quota.user, quota.group configuration files in the root of the filesystem.


root #emerge --ask --depclean --verbose sys-fs/quota

See also

  • Ext2 - ext2 filesystem.
  • Ext3 - ext3 filesystem with journaling support.
  • Ext4 - Extended file system version 4.
  • XFS - A high-performance journaling filesystem that also provides a quota system.
  • JFS - 64-bit journaling filesystem created by IBM.
  • Centralized_authentication_using_OpenLDAP - Quotas can be used with LDAP

External resources