Shrinking a filesystem with LVM

After an installation you might find some file systems are too large, they are almost empty. When you want to use that space for another file system, here are the steps you can take:
Imagine /opt is now 10 Gb, but 1 Gb would be sufficient.

  1. Check if the file system is in use. Using lsof /opt you will get a list of processes that currently use /opt. Stop these processes.
  2. Find out what device is used for /opt with df -h /opt or mount. In my example, I found /dev/mapper/VolGroup/opt hold files on /opt.
  3. Unmount the filesystem, using umount /opt
  4. Resize the filesystem using resize2fs /dev/mapper/VolGroup/opt 1G. This frees the "right" part of the disk that LVM will un-allocate in a moment. All data from the file system is on the "left hand side".
  5. Run lvreduce -L 1G /dev/mapper/VolGroup-opt to shrink the logical volume. (It might warn you that you need to run e2fsck -f /dev/mapper/VolGroup-opt before you can continue.
  6. Remount the filesystem with a command as mount /opt.

For /opt or any other filesystem that can easily be freed from open file handles, the above procedure works fine, but for "busy" filesystems, like /, /var, /usr, and so on, you'd have boot the machine without mounting filesystems. One way to do this is using the installation CD and starting up the "rescue" environment.