After fsck failure, maintenance shell asks for root password

Bug #372430 reported by James Legg on 2009-05-05
This bug affects 8 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
linux (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

I'm using Ubuntu 8.10, amd64 architecture, fully updated.

I turned on my system and after a bit of booting a little bit of fscking I was presented with the following:

 * Checking root file system...
fsck 1.41.3 (12-Oct-2008)
/dev/sda1 contains a file system with errors, check forced.
Inodes that were part of a corrupted orphan linked list found.

        (i.e., without -a or -p options)
fsck fied with exit status 4
 * An automatic file system check (fsck) of the root filesystem failed.
A manual fsck must be performed, then the system restarted.
The fsck should be performed in maintenance mode with the
root filesystem mounted in read-only mode.
 * The root filesystem is currently mounted in read-only mode.
A maintenance shell will now be started.
After performing system maintenance, press CONTROL-D
to terminate the maintenance shell and restart the system.
Give root password for maintenance
(or type Control-D to continue): _

The problem is:
- I haven't set up a root password, and a normal installation doesn't use one. So I can't give the root password.
- Control-D restarts the system, and the same thing happens next time you boot.
- If I boot into recovery mode using grub, the same thing happens.

So I have to use a liveCD to fsck /dev/sda1.

I should be able to provide the username and password of a sudoer to get the privileges this maintenance shell needs, and therefore fix (hopefully) the filesystem without impossible prompts, experimentation with recovery mode, and multiple reboots.

I don't know what caused fsck to immediately say "/dev/sda1 contains a file system with errors": the machine was shutdown normally last time it was used. It is a laptop with a fully charged battery, so it could not have been a power failure between starting the shutdown and unmounting the filesystems.

Sorry for not knowing which package this bug belongs to.

coCoKNIght (cocoknight) wrote :

I have the same problem but the machine is running a software raid. Do you know how I would fsck the software raid filesystem from a liveCD?

coCoKNIght (cocoknight) wrote :

I've written an article about how to perform the fsck on a RAID partition:

Daniel Hahler (blueyed) wrote :

Another workaround might be to use "init=/bin/bash" in the kernel line to get a login prompt, then run fsck manually.

But I agree that it should ask for a sudoers password instead, if this is possible. But after all, it should not ask for a root password, if there is none available.

description: updated
summary: - After fsck failure, mantenance shell asks for root password
+ After fsck failure, maintenance shell asks for root password
Tuomo Kohvakka (tuomo-kohvakka) wrote :

This is really an annoyance. It almost "semi-bricked" my eee, as those live-cd tricks ain't much help if you're away from home and there's no livecd, cd-drive or even another computer to google for help.

Alas, a workaround to bypass that stupid prompt is to press alt-sysrq-e to tErminate it. Saved my day.

IMHO, such of prompts don't really belong to modern computing, even if they have a long history. Band aid would be allow anyone sudoer to log in (much better than current!), even better solution would be to just run the fsck and proceed, if at all possible. That's what's gonna happen anyways, as the prompt suggests. Really advanced users may choose to disable that somehow, if required.

(what's the point of the prompt anyway, if it's that easy to bypass? and why is root passwd asked, even when the password isn't even set? how come journaled ext3 didn't prevent this from happening?)

Fabio Marconi (fabiomarconi) wrote :

Thank you for taking the time to report this bug and helping to make Ubuntu better.
Is this bug reproducible with the latest Lucid packages ?
Thanks in advance.

Changed in ubuntu:
status: New → Incomplete
Fabio Marconi (fabiomarconi) wrote :

 Thank you for taking the time to report this bug and helping to make Ubuntu better. This bug did not have a package associated with it, which is important for ensuring that it gets looked at by the proper developers. You can learn more about finding the right package at .

When reporting bugs in the future please use apport by using 'ubuntu-bug' and the name of the package affected. You can learn more about this functionality at

James Legg (lankyleggy) wrote :

I suppose as a boot issue, according to that document, the package should be Linux.

I don't know how to test if this is still a problem with the latest Lucid packages. How do you give a file system an "unexpected inconsistency"?

James Legg (lankyleggy) on 2010-08-07
affects: ubuntu → linux (Ubuntu)
Fabio Marconi (fabiomarconi) wrote :

We'd like to figure out what's causing this bug for you, but we haven't heard back from you in a while. Could you please provide the requested information? Thanks!

Fabio Marconi (fabiomarconi) wrote :

We are closing this bug report because it lacks the information we need to investigate the problem, as described in the previous comments. Please reopen it if you can give us the missing information, and don't hesitate to submit bug reports in the future. To reopen the bug report you can click on the current status, under the Status column, and change the Status back to "New". Thanks again!

Changed in linux (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Invalid

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