Between Linux and Anime

Kind of like Schrodinger's Cat

The nightmarish “Linux won’t boot, Not even the LiveCD”

Had the hands-down biggest computer scare today since switching to Linux several years ago. I remember boasting to my friend just weeks ago that Linux has never gone down randomly on me all these years, whereas random (and terrifying) system failures are something I wrestle with regularly during my old windows days. Of course I don’t mean Linux has never screwed up period don’t be daft – any self-respecting Linux geek must have wrecked their setup in one way or another before, but that’s different. That’s you, the geek, wrecking the box while feverishly working towards some geeky end or another. That’s not the same as random failures. That’s not the same as leaving the computer last night in a comfortable state and waking up today to find that the thing won’t boot. That’s never happened before with my Linuxbox.

Well, until this morning. 2 hours ago everything is fine. 2 hours later, hang during boot. And I haven’t done any kind of questionable hacking in days, and have no clue what might be wrong. Whats even more terrifying – I can’t even boot a live system – what?? Scared me shitless. I then tried booting into Windows (I dual-boot), and it apparently detected problems with the disk and automatically started a disk check. That’s even scarier, if the problem is with the disk my data could be screwed! My laptop isn’t even a year old too. It finished successfully though, apparently fixing records here and there, and then Windows booted okay. I tried Linux again – no go. Live Linux – no go. I tried doing failsafe boots and did some haphazard googling to no avail. Fast running out of ideas, I decided to boot back into Windows and try and look up whether or not Gparted (my most trusted partition utility) would run on Windows. Well, apparently not, you need to make a live image of it.


And then!

I dejectedly restarted my computer….. and Linux booted. Just like that. I’m currently typing on the revived system, which is working, by all appearances, perfectly normally.

What have I learned from the episode? Nothing. Well, nearly nothing. I have next to no idea what went wrong, but next time my Linux and Live system won’t boot, I’ll just reboot windows multiple times then try again. I’m not even gonna put this post in the ‘howtos’ category, but I’ll leave this here and see if it might help the next guy to desperately google “Linux won’t boot, Not even the LiveCD”.

My speculation? Well, the only clue was that Window’s chkdsk fired and fixed some things, so presumable the NTFS partition got a little corrupted. Maybe Linux hung on trying to mount the corrupted partition. Maybe it takes two reboots into Windows before all the chkdsk fixes go in effect. Yes, I’m just gonna conveniently blame Windows and NTFS.

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  1. Hmmm. No, I think there is a lesson to be learned here.


    There are plenty of programs do this for you.

    Or for the lazy folk like me…’cp -rfv ~/ /media/whatever’

  2. Jason "moofang"

    Heh maybe you’re right. I’ve never had a proper backup system all these time, although most of my most important files are scattered across machines. Still, disks don’t often fail, usually failures like these result in you needing to fresh install your OS + reinstall all your programs. Most backup schemes dn’t help you there…

  3. All I know is my ass has been saved multiple times by keeping backups.

  4. Jason "moofang"

    Yeah, actually who am I kidding yours was sound advice. Now I just need to get off my heavy behind and actually do it ><

  5. VPWarrior

    I was on the Internet today and my Linux just crashed. Usually when the modem is busy my browser crashes, but this time the whole system went down. I tried unplugging and rebooting but all day it still says something about an error on the disk. I’m scared. Not that my data will be gone though that would suck… Just that it might be hacked and I know who did it! But that’s a big if. I’ll wait and see what my buddy thinks who gave me the damn computer in the first place. :(

    • Jason "moofang"

      If it is a disk error it might be a hardware problem. If you have windows installed you can try running chkdsk and see what happens. Else you can try booting a linux livecd/liveusb and run fsck, basically do a disk check.

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