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contents of a folderChecking to see the structure and amount of contents on your hard drive is a pretty important capability. In fact, I just recently featured a program Figure Out Folder Contents With Better Directory Analyzer Figure Out Folder Contents With Better Directory Analyzer If you have a lot of files on your hard drive, you will probably at one point have wondered what's in those folders you created a very long time ago. You might have some problems... Read More that does such a task for Windows. But the same program cannot be used on Linux (or other operating systems for that matter).

However, we’ve been gifted with a Linux-native program that offers a simplified set of features that is, in my opinion, easier to use and more visually appealing. Even more so, it usually comes with distributions that offer GNOME as the desktop environment. What is it and what exactly does it do?

About Baobab

contents of a folder

Baobab is often masked in distributions by the name ‘Disk Usage Analyzer” rather than Baobab, but once you open the program and click on “About“, the name will suddenly appear. The name is based off the Baobab (tree), which is apparently the first kind of tree the developers thought of when making the program because of the tree’s unique way in which its bigger branches go off into smaller and smaller branches.

Overall, the program is lightweight, is easy to use, and offers some interesting visuals.

Installation (If Necessary)

Like mentioned above, if you’re running GNOME then Baobab should already be installed. You can launch it via the terminal or Alt+F2 by typing in “baobab“, or by finding “Disk Usage Analyzer” in the menus. In case it’s not installed, there are a number of ways to install it. It isn’t likely that Baobab is in its own package, but check with your distribution first.


For example, in Ubuntu, you can install gnome-utils via Synaptic, the Ubuntu Software Center, or by the command sudo apt-get install gnome-utils.

User Interface

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Once you launch the program, you’ll see how easy it is to use. At the top, you’ll see various buttons of what you can scan. This includes your home folder (recommended), the filesystem, a custom folder, or a remote location. There is also a stop button in case a scan is taking longer than you’d like and a refresh button to start a new scan for any changes.

Folder List

On the left side, you’ll see a list of all folders scanned and some information about them, such as the percentage of space the folder uses out of the entire scanned area, the actual size, and how many items are inside that specific folder. There are also arrows to the side of each folder so you can go inside those folders and see information about anything that is inside.

Colorful Graphs

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On the right side, you’ll see a visual representation of the information shown on the left side. On the graph you can hover over certain sections and see more information about what it is representing. There is a Rings Chart and a Treemap Chart, and I recommend you look at both to see which one you prefer. One doesn’t give any more information than the other, but organizes the information a bit differently.


contents of a folder

Finally, there aren’t many things to configure at all, considering it’s supposed to be simple to use. The only things you can configure under “Preferences” are any other optional locations whenever you choose to click on the Filesystem button.


Baobab is indeed very simple and gets you results that you can understand quickly.  I find the graphical charts to be very helpful and keeps it from being boring to being useful. I like to use Baobab occasionally to see if there is an excess of space being used in any of the folders in my home folder, and sometimes I use it simply to see the interesting rings it generates. Either way, it’s a good tool that could tell you some things about the files you’re storing that you didn’t know before.

Do you think Baobab is useful? What other features would you like to see added in the future? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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  1. minnesota linux
    September 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Looks a lot like Filelight, which does similar things and uses the KDE libraries.