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Hanging on a boot while checking a file system

Link to this post 21 Nov 09


Last time my system starts to hang on boot. It occurs while the "Checking file systems..." process. I noticed that it happens only when I wait established time in GRUB. If I press the "Enter" key in the GRUB menu the system will boot without any errors.

What is the reason of the bug? How can I fix it?


Debian 5.0.3;
GRUB 0.97.

Link to this post 22 Nov 09

I wouldn't necessarily jump to the conclusion that it is a bug, it may be the result of a problem with your bios, motherboard or a single hard drive. Does it freeze when checking a specific partition or is the freeze always at a random point?

Link to this post 22 Nov 09

I was a Debian user for many years. Debian sets a disk check after you boot up a partition after a certain number of times. I used Debian sid which allowed you to see what was happening during the boot, i.e., during the boot scroll. After 30 or so boots, Debian would perform an fsck (disk check), which, depending on the size of the partition, could take from 5 to 20 minutes. This could be what is going on. You boot isn't actually frozen, it's just checking the disk partition.
One simple way to check is to look at the disk access light on you computer. If it's constantly on, or on and flashing, it is probably performing that disk check. It shouldn't happen every boot, and, whether you hit enter or let it time out during grub shouldn't make a difference.
Let us know if you see that disk light flashing or not during that time, and, let it sit and finish (even if it takes 15 minutes). If you allow it to finish, it may not hang again for some time, or whatever your disk check is set for.
One can always extend the amount of time that the disk check is set for, but, lets see if that's what is happening first.

Link to this post 22 Nov 09

Actually the disk check is based upon the filesystem, not the distro. If you are using ext3 or ext4 that is probably the reason for the apparent stall.

Link to this post 22 Nov 09

Ah, my bad, I've only noticed it when using Debian.

Link to this post 22 Nov 09

Here's what I think about the situation.

I'm sure, I haven't got any problems with BIOS, the motherboard or other hardware. Also, I think that the problem is in the fsck utility. It seems, it can't perform an HDD check. Early when I started my system, fsck worked correctly and performed the check regulary after 26 system boots. It said something like /dev/sda3 was mount 26 times without checking, bla-bla-bla, check forced after that it showed me a progress bar and I could see the progress of checking.

Now the situation has changed. I push the “Power” button, the system starts, I see the boot operation sequence on the screen and sometimes when the boot process goes to the “Checking file systems…” stage the system just hang. The HDD's led is off and it doesn't blink. The system is in that state five, ten, fifteen minutes and nothing happens. I push the “Reset” button, the system reboot and if I push the “Enter” key in GRUB the system boot without problems, “Checking file systems…” returns some info that I think relevant to the last successful check. But if I don't push “Enter” the system hangs again.

I have to notice also I performed partitions size change about month ago. I reduced the partition where the root directory was and increased the partition with the “home” directory. I performed this operation booting with Ubuntu live CD and using the GParted utility. Partition size changing completed without any errors or warnings.

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