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Old 05-28-2008, 11:08 AM   #1
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can't get to run level 2; /dev/root not a directory


I'm in deep shit I think!

I picked up a new kernel image (2.6.24-1-686) using apt-get, along with some other stuff doing my weekly update-upgrade thing. I changed the lilo.conf file and ran lilo. I then rebooted, whereupon things went from good to catastrophic! The boot as such worked, but I got a "no more processes left in this run level" message.

I booted single user and that went ok but doing an init 2 gave me the same problem. Shunting all the stuff in /etc/rc2.d changed nothing. Booting the previous kernel changed nothing either! Running lilo -q gives me "/dev/root: not a directory", which it isn't - it's a (b) block device.

On the face of it my problem has nothing to do with the kernel but something to do with the apt-get upgrade, and needless to say I didn't pay any attention to what went on when I ran the command...

Has anyone got an idea of what is going on here: has someone put a spell on me or have I done something really stupid? What does the /dev/root message mean, i.e. should this be a directory or should it be a block device? What can I do about this? Is the /dev/root thing a symptom or is the no more processes being caused by something else entirely?

In other words, where do I go from here? Any ideas?


Old 05-28-2008, 11:26 AM   #2
Dutch Master
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Get back into single user mode on the previous kernel and remove the new one. Change from Lilo to Grub (it's much better these days), then check the Grub menu.list in /boot/grub to see if everything is OK and reboot. Now, forget apt-get and start using aptitude. As from Etch onwards, the Debian dev's recommend aptitude over apt-get. Now try installing that new kernel again. (I used aptitude on Lenny for 2 servers and upgraded w/o any hassle to the 2.6.24 kernel)
Old 05-28-2008, 10:35 PM   #3
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If you don't mind, I won't try to reproduce the problem on my server --that's I think the only machine I still use lilo.

It seems whether you have a problem with either lilo.conf or lilo itself. I bet on lilo.conf. Did you check this file against a known good one? AFAIK /dev/root doesn't appear anywhere. What happens if you do lilo -v -q?

Dutchmaster's suggestion to install grub is not elegant (because you don't find out your problem and it might hit you again) but it would be very effective though. Grub is easier to use.

I think I understand you are still able to boot in single user mode. So find oout how to use grub-install and go ahead. There are dozens of examples on the Internet, I won't repeat them here.

Old 06-10-2008, 08:50 AM   #4
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Thanks both of you for the moral support! In fact the problem was very mundane and what I thought were symptoms were mirages for the unwary (i.e. me)

I think now that the "no more processes left in the runlevel" message must just be the way init (or Linux) says that all the scripts found in the rc2.d directory have been run.

The lilo problem with /dev/root was not significant. In any case following your advice, and the fact that I didn't know what to do, I swapped lilo for grub and aptitude for apt-get. So something good has come out of this humbling experience!

I eventually realised that the problem was all down to Xorg!! Something went amiss during an apt-get upgrade and modules that should have been there, weren't. I installed them and hey presto! I have a system I can use once more!

Moral of the story? Look carefully at the log files. Know what you're doing or keep copies of the log files that correspond to a working installation. Needless to say I'll be taking the 2nd route! Oh, and beware of updates - it may not be the software, it may be you replying wrongly to questions.

Thanks again, and sorry for all those sleepless nights I'm sure I gave you (you bet!).


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