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Old 09-08-2003, 09:05 AM   #1
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Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Bucks, UK
Distribution: Mandrake 9.1 / Suse 8.1
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Unhappy Help! - cannot boot due to mount

Hiya guys,
Well I've got myself in a right pickle here. I'm on Mandrake 9.1, and I can't boot up my system any more. The error messages start when I boot up: the console display says 'mount: only root can do this', and from there it all goes downhill as none of the startup programs/services can access drives which they all assume to be there. It's a right mess.

It all boils down to 3 questions really:

1) Does anyone know what's causing mount to be so fussy about root all of a sudden? (I've been able to mount drives as a non-root user before)
2)If so, how would you fix such a problem?
3)How do *I* fix it, given that I can't get into KDE or Gnome at the moment?

My windoze-born instinct would normally say "just reinstall it!" but that's not really an option here - I'd just finished configuring Mandrake the way I liked it, and I really *don't* want to have to install everything again (several hundred RPMs at last count - not including everything installed by Mandrake). Thanks very much for any help!

LethalSideParting L:-)
Old 09-08-2003, 02:16 PM   #2
Registered: Sep 2003
Distribution: Mandrake, Slack, Debian and PicoBSD
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1) When did it last work?

2) What did you change between then and now?

3) Have you tried booting from the CD, pressing F2 (or whatever for more options) and then typing "rescue" at the prompt. You'll get a text-based GUI which can help solve boot problems.

4) Can you get a command prompt? If so, login as yourself, "su" to root and then try mounting your drives.
Old 09-11-2003, 01:23 PM   #3
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Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Bucks, UK
Distribution: Mandrake 9.1 / Suse 8.1
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Sorry for the enthusiasm, but my Dad and I managed to fix it late last night / early this morning - perfect father-son activity, lol (funny how Linux always works best in the early hours...guess that's when it was programmed ). Guess I'm just a little bit happy that I got m'Tux back, that's all...

Anyway, for the curious and those with similar problems, I'll write a (fairly) quick account of what I broke, how I broke it, and how my Dad fixed it... My little contribution to the Linux Cause...

The problem started when I got messages in KDE saying 'mount: only root can do this' when I tried to mount CDs and DVDs. I thought (wrongly) that it was all to do with the ownership of the mount executable in /bin, so I did a "chown karl /bin/mount", hoping that that would solve it. *BIG* mistake. It didn't work, and I decided I'd go to bed and think about it, but when I tried to boot it up the next day I got more messages saying "mount: only root can do this" during booting. Linux couldn't boot *any* of my drives (I think the problems started with /proc - those of you with any Linux knowledge will know that not being able to mount that is a pretty dire situation!!). After that, everything fell down in a big ugly mess, normally resulting in the system freezing when the kernel couldn't find some modules (can't remember which). I couldn't even get to a command prompt - the keyboard would freeze up long before I got that far :-(

Now for the fix. Thanks for the suggestion, Frogman (and another thank you for the quick response!!), but inserting the install CD and trying to repair with that didn't work - the installer kept insisting that it couldn't find any Linux partitions, and suggested that I install a new one instead. Not what I was after, in short.

Eventually my Dad and I went for the best recovery CD you can get - Knoppix 3.2 ( :-) . For those of you who are new to Linux, Knoppix is a Linux distro that you run off a CD, with no need for anything to be installed on the hard drive at all. It provides a complete desktop, office tools....and crucially, a command prompt with root access.

We booted up Knoppix 3.2, and it detected my Linux partitions just fine. First job was to find my /bin partition - just did this by looking in each partition one at a time until I found one that looked like /. It turned out to be /mnt/hdb12. First problem though - Knoppix had mounted all my partitions in read-only mode, so we had to become root (no password needed on Knoppix to become root BTW), unmount the partition and then remount it in read-write mode.

Once that was out the way, we quickly found the offending executable in /mnt/hdb12/bin . Once there, it was was a case of typing "chown root.root /mnt/hdb12/bin/mount" and rebooting. Net result - one working system and one very red faced newbie who realises that he has a lot to learn about Linux ;-) .

Anyway, I hope this will help out anyone who gets into a similar fix...

Old 09-11-2003, 07:12 PM   #4
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Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Virginia, USA
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"Eventually my Dad and I went for the best recovery CD you can get - Knoppix 3.2 ( :-) . "

You can create your own recovery CD:
Old 09-11-2003, 08:02 PM   #5
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Registered: Feb 2001
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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Why use a CD when you can use a single floppy disk.

Tom's Root Boot

It's Linux on a floppy.


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