Weighing in with Ncdu


Article from Issue 214/2018

Ncdu adds some GUI-like features to the classic du command.

The du (for "disk usage") utility is a useful tool for estimating file size and cleaning up a hard drive. du summarizes the disk usage for each file in the directory and even looks down into subdirectories.

du worked well in the old days of printed output, but in today's interactive environments, it has some limitations. Like many old-school command-line tools, du prints the output on the screen by default, and the terminal screen is nowhere near large enough to see all the files in a large directory system. Of course, you could print to a file and examine the file with a text editor, or you could filter and refine the du results using standard command-line piping and sorting techniques. But sometimes what you really want to do is move around in the output as if perusing a printed page, progressing interactively through subdirectories as you would with a GUI-based file manager.

The Ncdu utility [1] is a souped-up version of du that has some GUI-like features. Ncdu uses the ncurses API [2], which is a common tool for building GUI features into command-line programs. (See the box entitled "Why Work in the Terminal?")


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