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Old 12-27-2003, 03:25 PM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: May 2003
Location: Pullman, WA
Distribution: Mandrake
Posts: 4

Rep: Reputation: 0
Unable to edit fstab... problems with ext. usb hdd removal

Hi, all,

Several searches turned up very little which was specific to my problem (or above my head), so I thought I'd post a question here.

When rebooting my laptop (Inspiron 5000e, if it makes a difference) today, into Mandrake 9.1, it hung, and has continued to hang at the same spot, despite all my efforts. Here are the details, as best as I can determine:

The bootup runs fine (lilo boot screen comes up, etc., and I can choose my "linux", "win4lin", or "linux -- no fs" options, and they'll all give the same results, as far as I know), finds module dependencies, and so forth, until it gets to checking filesystems, then I have problems. Since I have the machine right here, I'll try to transcribe the messages (typos are very most likely mine):

Checking filesystems
/dev/hda9: clean (... bunch of details of files and blocks...)
/dev/hda8: clean (... ditto...)
The superblock could not be read or does note describe a correct
ext2 filesystem. If the device is valid and it really contains an ext2
filesystem (and not swap or ufs or something else), then the
superblock is corrupt, and you might try running e2fsck with an
alternate superblock: e2fsck -b 8193 <device>

fsck.ext3: No such file or directory while trying to open /dev/sda8
Failed to check filesystem. Do you want to repair the errors?

If I choose either one, the machine responds with this:

*** An error occurred during the file system check.
*** Dropping you to a shell; the system will reboot
*** when you leave the shell.
Give root password for maintenance
(or type Control-D for normal startup):

If I Ctrl-D, then the system reboots, with the same problems. If I drop into a shell (but not quite a shell, as far as I can tell), the prompt looks like this:
(Repair filesystem) n # where n increments with each hard-return on my part.

Here's what I've tried thus far: checking the /etc/fstab file. In it are all the "usual" mount points, which all seem totally correct EXCEPT for this entry:
/dev/sda8 /mnt/maxtor ext3 defaults 1 2
This one is suspicious to me, because as I understand it, the fstab should reflect all the _currently-mounted_ devices, and this thing (which I DID use during my last successful linux session) is NOT plugged in (a USB mouse is in the -- only -- usb port right now, and the little LED is lit up just fine; unplugging the mouse makes no difference upon reboots).
I do not remember whether or not I properly unmounted the external Maxtor drive before I shut the computer down last time. Could it be that the fstab file is simply not being regenerated correctly?

I would go in and just comment out that line if I could, but Mandrake's "repair filesystem" shell doesn't seem to have a whole lot of utilities in it, including an editor which I can find (vi, emacs, and nano don't seem to be available right now). I've tried a few other options:
1) copying the fstab file to a windows partition, rebooting into windows, and editing it there, then to reboot into linux, transfer the file over, and rebooting once again. This isn't possible right now, because windows doesn't want to let me browse to anything (probably unrelated to this problem, but I'm not absolutely 100% sure of that);
2) putting in a Knoppix or PC-Linux cd, and looking at their fstab files. They look good. If I can't get help here, I think my next option is to copy their fstab files to a spot on the HDD and trying to use those as my new fstab files for Mandrake;
3) doing what the post at
hxxx:// suggests (sorry -- this forum won't let me include the correct URL until I post more messages; change the xxx//:aaa to ttp://www). Unfortunately, I do not have my 9.1 installation CDs. I have a Mandrake 8.1 CD, and I can boot into the "rescue" mode, but the fstab file present then is totally different (details available upon request, if I can reproduce my work).

Any clues?

Many thanks,
Curtis O.
Old 12-27-2003, 06:35 PM   #2
LQ Newbie
Registered: May 2003
Location: Pullman, WA
Distribution: Mandrake
Posts: 4

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
Hello, again,

I found the solution to my problem!

I never was able to edit the /etc/fstab file in Windows, or in Mandrake itself. However, I WAS able to boot into Knoppix, and navigate to the file on the hdd that was /etc/fstab (it's in /dev/hda6/etc/fstab on my lappie). This I couldn't edit, until I read about changing the /hda6 device to writeable (right-click in KDE in Knoppix, and choose "change read/write permissions"). This then allowed me to fire up kedit and take out the /dev/sda8 line in fstab, re-save it, and reboot.

That's all it took!

Cheers, all.


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