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How To Fix “Error reading lock file /etc/.profile.swp” in Nano on Ubuntu

Ubuntu 14

When working with the Nano text editor on Ubuntu, you might encounter an error message that reads: “Error reading lock file /etc/.profile.swp: Not enough data read”. This error typically occurs when there’s an issue with the hidden swap file that Nano uses to prevent data loss. In this article, we’ll guide you through several steps to resolve this issue.

Understanding the Error

Before we delve into the solutions, it’s important to understand what the error message means. The /etc/.profile.swp file is a hidden swap file created by Nano. This file is used to save changes temporarily while you’re editing a file. If Nano crashes or is unexpectedly closed, it can recover your unsaved changes from this swap file.

The error message “Error reading lock file /etc/.profile.swp: Not enough data read” indicates that Nano is having trouble reading this swap file. This could be due to several reasons, including insufficient disk space, a bug in the Nano version you’re using, or issues with large log files.

Solution 1: Remove the Hidden Swap File

The first solution to try is to remove the hidden swap file. You can do this using the rm command, which is used to remove files or directories in Linux. Here’s how:

  1. Open your terminal.
  2. Type rm /etc/.profile.swp and press Enter.

This command will remove the swap file, potentially resolving the error. However, be careful when using the rm command, as it permanently deletes files.

Solution 2: Check Your Nano Version

If removing the swap file doesn’t resolve the issue, the problem might lie with the version of Nano you’re using. To check your Nano version, use the following command:

nano --version

If you’re using an older version of Nano, consider updating it. You can do this using the following command:

sudo apt-get install nano

This command updates Nano to the latest version available in the Ubuntu repositories.

Solution 3: Clear Disk Space

Insufficient disk space might be causing the issue. To check your available disk space, use the df command:

df -h

This command displays the amount of disk space used and available on your filesystems. If you’re running low on space, consider deleting unnecessary files or applications.

Solution 4: Check for Large Log Files

In some cases, large log files can consume all the disk space, causing issues. To find large files in your system, use the find command:

find / -type f -size +100M

This command finds all files in your system larger than 100MB. If you find any large log files, consider truncating or deleting them.

Solution 5: Use the Find Command to Delete All .swp Files

If all else fails, you can use the find command to delete all .swp files in your system:

find . -name "*.swp" -delete

This command finds and deletes all .swp files in your current directory and its subdirectories. Be careful when using this command, as it deletes all .swp files, which might have unintended consequences.


The “Error reading lock file /etc/.profile.swp: Not enough data read” error in Nano on Ubuntu can be frustrating, but it’s usually easy to resolve. By following the steps outlined in this article, you should be able to fix the issue and continue editing files with Nano. Remember to always be cautious when deleting files or updating software, and always back up your important data.

What is Nano?

Nano is a text editor for the command line in Ubuntu. It is a simple and user-friendly editor that allows you to create and edit text files.

How do I open a file in Nano?

To open a file in Nano, you can use the following command: nano filename. Replace "filename" with the name of the file you want to open.

How do I save changes in Nano?

To save changes in Nano, press Ctrl + O and then press Enter. This will save the changes to the file.

How do I exit Nano?

To exit Nano, press Ctrl + X. If you have unsaved changes, Nano will prompt you to save them before exiting.

Can I undo changes in Nano?

Yes, you can undo changes in Nano. Press Ctrl + _ (underscore) to undo the last change. You can keep pressing this key combination to undo multiple changes.

How do I search for text in Nano?

To search for text in Nano, press Ctrl + W and then enter the text you want to search for. Press Enter to start the search. Use Ctrl + W again to find the next occurrence.

How do I replace text in Nano?

To replace text in Nano, press Ctrl + \ and then enter the text you want to replace. Press Enter, and then enter the replacement text. Press Enter again to start the replacement. Use A to replace all occurrences or Y to replace them one by one.

How do I navigate through a file in Nano?

You can navigate through a file in Nano using the arrow keys. Use the Up and Down arrows to move line by line, and the Left and Right arrows to move character by character.

Can I customize Nano’s settings?

Yes, you can customize Nano’s settings. The configuration file for Nano is located at ~/.nanorc. You can modify this file to change settings such as syntax highlighting, key bindings, and more.

Is Nano available on other operating systems?

Yes, Nano is available on other operating systems besides Ubuntu. It is a popular text editor and can be installed on various Linux distributions and Unix-like systems.

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