Ubuntu Boot halts if a windows partition is hibernated

Bug #896647 reported by fig_wright on 2011-11-26
8
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
mountall (Ubuntu)
Medium
Unassigned

Bug Description

When booting Ubuntu 11.04, if there is an NTFS partition in the /etc/fstab file set to automount during boot, and if there is a hibernated windows system on that partition... then the boot will halt permanently, waiting for user input to a question about proceeding.

Why is this a bug? It is a bug because so many users now do not have functioning visuals during boot due to the complexities of Plymouth - in one way or another many users have blank or unresponsive screens during boot - until the GDM screen comes up. These users will not be able to see the prompt for their input to resolve an issue that does not actually need any input to resolve. Any user in this situation will have an essentially dead system that will not boot - they they do not know that a simple key-press can save their system.

At the very least the prompt should have a 60 second time-out so that if there is no user input (for example if the user cant see the text and therefore does not know that input is being expected) then the default choice should be made. This will allow the PC to boot to a usable state, which the user may be able to find out the problem from.

In the event of a hibernated system on a peripheral NTFS partition, then the default action should be simply to not bother mounting the partition. The user will discover soon enough that the partition is missing and that something it up with it (it has a hibernated system on it) - there is no need to halt the boot for an issue like this.

Steve Langasek (vorlon) wrote :

> When booting Ubuntu 11.04, if there is an NTFS partition in the
> /etc/fstab file set to automount during boot, and if there is a
> hibernated windows system on that partition... then the boot will halt
> permanently, waiting for user input to a question about proceeding.

What question does it ask? I don't know what question would be asked in these circumstances or why.

> It is a bug because so many users now do not have functioning visuals
> during boot due to the complexities of Plymouth - in one way or another
> many users have blank or unresponsive screens during boot

If you find this to be the case, you should file a bug report about the lack of functioning visuals that you're seeing. I don't believe this is actually the case with 11.04 or 11.10.

> At the very least the prompt should have a 60 second time-out so that if
> there is no user input (for example if the user cant see the text and
> therefore does not know that input is being expected) then the default
> choice should be made.

In all situations where mountall will wait indefinitely for an answer, there is no default choice at all. Such a prompt already indicates that the filesystem is somehow broken, and there's not enough available information for mountall to automatically say which of the options, if any, is safe. The only thing we can do in such a situation is ask for user input.

But again, I don't know what prompt you're seeing in the case of this windows partition. There may be a bug in mountall here, but we need more information to say for sure.

affects: plymouth (Ubuntu) → mountall (Ubuntu)
Changed in mountall (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
fig_wright (fig-wright) wrote :

The message during boot (if you are lucky enough to see it) is:

-----------------
 Windows is hibernated, refused to mount
 NTFS partition is hibernated {blah, blah}

 {several lines of more blah about mounting hibernated partitions}

 An error occurred while mounting /media/winxp
 press S to skip mounting or M for manual recovery
-----------------

Pressing 's' (*and then return* - which incidentally is not specified in the message) continues with normal boot with no adverse consequences except that the NTFS partition is not mounted.

There is no serious reason why 's' couldn't default after 60 seconds. If Ubuntu is serious about winning over windows users, then functioning properly in dual-boot situations is a *MUST* work scenario. Failing to boot Ubuntu because windows is hibernated on another partition somewhere is a show-stopper.

On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 07:46:07PM -0000, fig_wright wrote:
> The message during boot (if you are lucky enough to see it) is:

> -----------------
> Windows is hibernated, refused to mount
> NTFS partition is hibernated {blah, blah}
>
> {several lines of more blah about mounting hibernated partitions}
>
> An error occurred while mounting /media/winxp
> press S to skip mounting or M for manual recovery
> -----------------

Ok, thanks.

> There is no serious reason why 's' couldn't default after 60 seconds. If
> Ubuntu is serious about winning over windows users, then functioning
> properly in dual-boot situations is a *MUST* work scenario. Failing to
> boot Ubuntu because windows is hibernated on another partition somewhere
> is a show-stopper.

The reason is that mountall doesn't know how to distinguish between "this is
an optional filesystem that should be ignored if it can't be mounted" and
"this is a critical filesystem that we can't boot without".

However, you can *tell* mountall this by adding a 'nobootwait' option to the
entry in /etc/fstab.

--
Steve Langasek Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer http://www.debian.org/
<email address hidden> <email address hidden>

Changed in mountall (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Triaged
importance: Undecided → Medium
fig_wright (fig-wright) wrote :

Thanks for the 'nobootwait' option, I'll put that in for future.

Although you say mountall doesn't know "this is an optional filesystem that should be ignored if it can't be mounted", clearly some part of the process chain does know this because the system knows it has halted because there is a hibernation file on the partition (hence the message, if you can see it). This information could be passed to mountall and used to pass judgement. A partition with a windows hibernation file on is going to be ntfs and is not going to be "this is a critical filesystem that we can't boot without".

I have spotted elsewhere: "But it is dangerous to write to the partition of hibernated OS, because some of the FS tables are still in memory (well, in hibernation file but not in the FS), applications still have handles to some files and generally file system state is kind of unstable." Worst case scenario the offending filesystem could just be mounted read-only...

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