Keeping an eye on your disk is always very important, especially today when dealing with huge quantity of data. Take a look at your personal files and programs, and you will be surprised by how much disk space you consume. Baobab is a Graphical User Interface software to analyze a disk usage. Hopefully, Baobab can help you manage that, straight out of the box, and with very little installation required.
At the risk of repeating myself, the installation is very simple. If you use Ubuntu, chances are great that Baobab is already present on your system, since it is part of the gnome-utils package. If it is not the case, try
sudo apt-get install gnome-utils
For other distribution, check your repositories (here for Archlinux users). And of course, you can always visit the official website, and in the worst case, compile the sources from the git of gnome-utils.
Now that Baobab is on your computer, you can launch it and use it without any further configurations. There are four distinct usage of Baobab: analyze the home directory, the file system, a particular folder, or even a folder over the network.
You can choose between two ways of representing the disk distribution: the ring chart or the tree map. These representations allow you to visualize efficiently the size of each file. The colors can be associated to a heat map: the more red and big a file or directory is, the bigger in memory size it is. Baobab also scans recursively through every folder, so that by clicking on one, its internal structure will be displayed and the heat map will be applied to its sub-files.
The GUI is composed of three panes: at the top you can choose what to analyze, on the left is the directory tree, and on the right is the graphical representation. Notice that you can also display the allowed space by checking the appropriate menu within View.
I also liked the possibility to collapse and expand every folder in the tree via the command from the Edit menu.
About the analyze functions, their usage is fairly simple. Select your option and the scan will begin automatically. The only case where this does not happen is when you select analyze a particular folder or a folder over the network. The former is also simple, just select the targeted folder. However, the latter is more interesting. Indeed, Baobab supports a lot of network protocols that you can use in order to scan a distant folder: ssh, FTP (open and secured), WebDav (HTTP and HTTPS), and even a custom URL. Each of them requires the standard parameter like the server, the port, the user name, the password, etc. From there, the program will behave normally and display the same graphs as for the first three options.
Finally, in the Preferences, you can choose which devices are to be considered as your system file. This can become particularly useful when you use LVM and want a specific analysis of some of them. For example, I like to keep track of the home LVM more than the one for booting. It makes more sense for the music directory in the home folder to grow rather than the boot partition that your rarely modify.
Baobab is a very simple, yet powerful tool. I was always a big fan of the heat map to represent the space used and Baobab was loyal to this concept. The time used to scan a folder remains relatively short and the overall fluidity is flawless. I can only finish by saying that if you are not an adept of the command line, Baobab is a must have software to manage your disk usage.
What do you think of Baobab? Do you prefer to stick to the command line? If yes, with which command/script? Can you think of any improvement which can be made to Baobab? Please let us know in the comments.