How to manage /var/mail/root file

July 18, 2016 371 views
Linux Basics Storage

The size of /var/mail/root has been increasing as i am using lot of cron jobs and may cause memory shortage. Is it wise to delete that file? How to manage this problem?

1 comment
2 Answers
kamaln7 MOD July 18, 2016
Accepted Answer


I would recommend emptying the file instead of completely deleting it just to prevent any issues that might be caused by the file being missing.

cat /dev/null > /var/mail/root

You can disable cron emails completely by adding MAILTO="" to your cron file. Run crontab -e and add that line above your cron jobs. If you want to disable emails for just one cron job, you will need to redirect its output to /dev/null by adding > /dev/null 2>&1 at the end of the line. For example:

* * * * */5 /path/to/command arguments > /dev/null 2>&1

2 ways to tackle this.

1) send all root emails to /dev/null
This is a sledgehammer approach that means you might miss some important error messages.
But if you don't care too much you can append

> /dev/null to the end of any cron job you don't want an output from.
0 * * * * python /etc/tidy-log-files.py > /dev/null

2 ) redirect root mail to a physical email address you own.
This is the safer way then you can see the output and deal with it without filling your server.

go to /etc/aliases

add in a line :
root: my-email@gmail.com
So now every time root gets and email it's redirected to the external email address instead.

As for the current load. either delete the file and recreate it as root.
Or use the mail command to look through and delete emails manually

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