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Old 07-14-2006, 10:13 PM   #1
TheMusicGuy
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Filesystem root ( / ) mounts read only at boot, can't re mount RW


I'm sorry if this question has been asked before but I can't seem to use the forum search for some reason; all my browsers get stuck waiting for a repsponse from the server after I click "Search".

My computer is in a terrible state. It's at least 6 years old and just about everything is falling apart and, due to it's age and lack of money, I'm forced to continue using this hardware as is. This is apparently causing some kind of weird errors in the background of Debian because my filesystem will often remount in read-only mode without any warning or indication. The only way I can tell is that I suddenly lose write access to anything stored on my primary partition (/ on /dev/hda2 as ext3, that is) and any program/script that needs write access to the disk will fail. This includes writes to /tmp, which means that even Vi and Man can't be used.

Usually when this happens I'm automatically given a chance to run fsck in maintanance mode. While doing so I usually come across some missing/damaged inodes and things, for which I usually just take the default "just fix it" option . This usually fixes the FS and I can then run Aptitude to upgrade all upgradable packages on my system. After this I'm good to go.

This last time, however, after running Fsck it comes up "clean", but I still can't regain R/W access to /dev/hda2. I can't even mount it at a secondary location because mount needs write access to do so.

I've tried using Knoppix to remove the "error=remount-ro" option from /mnt/hda2/etc/fstab (which is /etc/fstab from Debian) but Deb still refuses to give me R/W access.

Is there any explaination to this or any way to fix it?

Thank you,

-TMG

Last edited by TheMusicGuy; 07-14-2006 at 10:15 PM.
 
Old 07-14-2006, 10:19 PM   #2
bushidozen
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Make sure you back up all of the important files on your computer. The problems you're having could be due to a failing hard drive.
 
Old 07-15-2006, 10:05 AM   #3
TheMusicGuy
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I'm sorry, I forgot to mention; all parts of my system are 6 years old EXCEPT the hard drive. We replaced the old one with a brand-new 160GB SeaGate IDE/ATA something-or-other. However, I should indicate that the system seems to have problems using any space over the 130GB mark so I'm actually only using the first 81GB or so. (40 for backup of stuff from Windows, 40 for Deb and 1GB for swap.) The rest is unused.

I'm not a hardware guru, but is it possible that the rest of the old hardware is somehow damaging the new drive?
 
Old 07-15-2006, 11:24 AM   #4
HappyTux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMusicGuy
I'm sorry, I forgot to mention; all parts of my system are 6 years old EXCEPT the hard drive. We replaced the old one with a brand-new 160GB SeaGate IDE/ATA something-or-other. However, I should indicate that the system seems to have problems using any space over the 130GB mark so I'm actually only using the first 81GB or so. (40 for backup of stuff from Windows, 40 for Deb and 1GB for swap.) The rest is unused.

I'm not a hardware guru, but is it possible that the rest of the old hardware is somehow damaging the new drive?

I doubt it is damaging the new HD. Have you tried running memtest86 for a few hours to confirm that you don't have a bad stick of ram? BTW what does fdisk -l as root show for the size of the drive if it sees the whole drive the linux should be able to use all of it.
 
Old 07-15-2006, 09:53 PM   #5
TheMusicGuy
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fdisk -l returns 160gb but whenever I've tried to use that last 30gb in the past I've always run into problems immediately after installing. Anyway, I don't want to reinstall Deb again unless I have to because I've already had to do that a few times. Therefore, I'd like to know if there is anyway to get Deb to allow write access again first.

Btw, yes, I ran memtest for 5+ hours and no errors turned up.

Last edited by TheMusicGuy; 07-15-2006 at 09:58 PM.
 
Old 07-15-2006, 10:39 PM   #6
HappyTux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMusicGuy
fdisk -l returns 160gb but whenever I've tried to use that last 30gb in the past I've always run into problems immediately after installing. Anyway, I don't want to reinstall Deb again unless I have to because I've already had to do that a few times. Therefore, I'd like to know if there is anyway to get Deb to allow write access again first.

Btw, yes, I ran memtest for 5+ hours and no errors turned up.
Ram seems good then have you tried getting the driver utility disk from the manufacturer (seatools I believe it is called) then using the utility to prepare/partition the disk for a BIOS limitation on the hard drive size because that looks like the problem size wise for the disk. I would also try different file systems like reiser or ext2 even just to rule out problems with the ext3. You may want to take and put in the other machine you have listed and run there for a day or so to see if the problem persists.
 
Old 07-18-2006, 06:57 AM   #7
mikieboy
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Originally posted by TheMusicGuy
Quote:
fdisk -l returns 160gb but whenever I've tried to use that last 30gb in the past I've always run into problems
There is a 138Gb hard drive limit on older computers. I believe it is something to do with the IDE controller on the motherboard. I don't think you're going to be able to use that last 30Gb without a motherboard upgrade.
 
Old 07-18-2006, 07:30 AM   #8
michapma
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The limit size on older systems is 128 GB (not 138), because of 28-bit addressing under Logical Block Addressing (LBA) under the ATA standard. I believe this is a limit of the BIOS (updating the BIOS might move that limit up to 128 PB = 2^{20} GB with 48-bit). This also explains why fdisk sees it correctly, but you can't use it for filesystems.

One can sound quite knowledgeable when one knows how to use Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical..._Enhanced_BIOS

Earlier this year I had inexplicable problems with my hard-drives. The problem turned out to actually be the IDE ribbon cable. It could also be that your motherboard or its controllers are finally eating the dust. Is it possible for you to buy a used motherboard that matches the rest of the hardware?
 
Old 07-18-2006, 09:37 AM   #9
HappyTux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michapma
The limit size on older systems is 128 GB (not 138), because of 28-bit addressing under Logical Block Addressing (LBA) under the ATA standard. I believe this is a limit of the BIOS (updating the BIOS might move that limit up to 128 PB = 2^{20} GB with 48-bit). This also explains why fdisk sees it correctly, but you can't use it for filesystems.

One can sound quite knowledgeable when one knows how to use Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical..._Enhanced_BIOS

Earlier this year I had inexplicable problems with my hard-drives. The problem turned out to actually be the IDE ribbon cable. It could also be that your motherboard or its controllers are finally eating the dust. Is it possible for you to buy a used motherboard that matches the rest of the hardware?
That is not strictly true I had an older board (PII) that had the 32gb limit windows could only use the 32gb (of 40gb HD) no matter what, I put linux on it and it used the entire 40gb without problems. Good point on the cables the OP should make sure that he has a good 80 pin IDE cable (not one of those funky rounded ones either) and if it turns out to be the controller he could always buy an IDE controller card and still keep the motherboard they usually do the 48bit addressing.
 
Old 07-19-2006, 01:56 AM   #10
mikieboy
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Originally posted by michapma
Quote:
The limit size on older systems is 128 GB (not 138)
Sorry! That was a typo error (promise to check posts in future).
Thanks for the explanation although some of it is a bit over my head.
 
Old 07-25-2006, 06:14 PM   #11
TheMusicGuy
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Hello, again. I'm sorry it took me so long to reply, but I'm back now.
In response to all the various messages that were left while I was away...

1.) My BIOS detects my HD as being 137GB. (Yes, I know, that's completely random but that's what it says)

2.) I'm using the ribbon that came with the hard drive rather than the one that was in my system originally.

3.) I looked through the various utilities on the Seatools disk. They all seem to require that the entire drive be reformatted which is not an option because I can't easily backup my partitions at the moment. However, I tried one thing that said it would change the number of sectors shown. All this seemed to do was erase GRUB from the MBR; at least, now my system says "Invalid disk. Replace and press ENTER when ready".

4.) I can't replace the motherboard right now because I don't have the experience or the money.

It's kind of like this...
I'm the "in-house tech guy" for our family and whenever the PC 'breaks' from old age I'm the one who has to try and sqeeze a few more months of life out of it. My parents are working on a plan to get a new computer, which we all desperately want and need, but there's really no way of knowing when that's going to happen. Until it does, though, I have to keep coaxing this thing on using only what we already have. It's a miracle that we even bought the new HD. :P

Anyway, I really appreciate everyone's help so far. Thanks.

EDIT:

Well, more or less unexpectedly, we finally bought a new PC. (Finally! Yay!)
I guess that means I don't have to worry about this anymore...Oh well, cool.

Thanks everyone!

Last edited by TheMusicGuy; 08-06-2006 at 01:54 AM.
 
  


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