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Last time I ran fsck on my ext2 partition the fragmentation ratio was pretty low, and I tend to fill up my disks. Fortunately, homework assignments tend to be shorter, and more likely to fit in a contiguous spot. Anyway, what else can you do?

From a different perspective, hopefully /tmp is on a different filesystem from /home, otherwise the reading the man pages might overwrite the blocks you need to recover with the temporary files they produce. (And less, more, sort, etc.) Also, doing Google/StackOverflow searches is probably unwise due to the browser writing stuff to the 50 MB disk cache (FF default, anyway) on the filesystem you want. Probably step 1 should be "remount the partition read-only". Or better yet, "find another computer to use for research" :)

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