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I recently installed MongoDB on Ubuntu to do some development and noticed it didn’t start when I installed it via sudo aptitude install mongodb. Checking the logs I discovered the problem:

[initandlisten] ERROR: Insufficient free space for journal files
[initandlisten] Please make at least 3379MB available in /var/lib/mongodb/journal or use --smallfiles

I have a tiny SSD on my computer and I really don’t need this using over 3GB just so I can do a little hacking.

OK so I’ll just set --smallfiles. Under Ubuntu settings like arguments passed to a daemon when it starts are usually found in /etc/defaults but I couldn’t see any such file for MongoDB.

It turned out you can also set this in the config file under /etc/mongodb.conf so just add this line to the bottom of that file:

smallfiles = true