Had a strange problem while working with EC2. If you run out of space on a linux main partition it appears that instead of dying it uses it’s swan song to create a separate partition for /tmp – this presumably allows you to keep using the terminal and means the machine doesn’t grind to a complete halt.
Unfortunately on AWS when you snapshot the image and create a new machine (with a larger main partition) the /tmp folder remains. This is not a problem until something tries to use /tmp for something – hint, almost immediately when you start doing anything.
You verify this is the case by running
which will show you the partitions and if you have run something and it failed (which is how I discovered the problem) then you should see that the “overflow” partition is mounted as /tmp and is full – or that it only has 1mb of space, both should be true if the situation above has happened to you.
To fix the problem remove the /tmp mount, using
sudo umount overflow
This may fail and if it does then you may need to use
sudo umount -l /tmp
The -l calls for lazy unmounting.