Hanging ntfs-mounts leave system unbootable when install is cancelled

Bug #196075 reported by Arno Waschk on 2008-02-27
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
ubiquity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Using Ubuntu 7.10 desktop amd64 cd-image downloaded from website 2008/02/26.

I was trying to install from within the started live-cd session, using the install button on the desktop.

The installer hang (note: this is not the actual bug i am talking about) after copying the files in the attempt of obviously (as reported by df) mounting several existing ntfs partitions from my drives into one mounting point (/var/lib/os-prober/mount) for whatever reason (looks like some known issues in mount.ntfs-3g 1.913...). After some hours of waiting and realizing nothing at all went on i cancelled the install.

When giving up, and trying to reboot into my existing windows installation, the system was unbootable. It only said "Grub stage 1.5" "Error 5".
I had to (partially) reinstall windows.

A serious installation CANNOT shoot an existing MBR and/or bootloader before *knowing* that the new ones *will* work.
If the installer, or the mounting instances, are confused by drives/partitions/whatever for whatever reasons, there is no reason to assume that grub will reliably work. And since there were no files like grub.conf or menu.lst in /boot, it cannot work at all, AFAICT.

I consider this a serious mistake in the design of the installation procedure, and a reason not to trust ubuntu at all, until this flaw is obviously made impossible.

Sorry for ranting.

Arno Waschk

Steve Langasek (vorlon) wrote :

Thank you for taking the time to report this issue and help to improve Ubuntu.

It is impossible to ever guarantee with 100% certainty that the bootloader will succeed until the attempt is made; this is a limitation inherent to software. Any failures to correctly boot are certainly bugs, and all such bugs are taken seriously, but they can't all be solved and eliminated before they're seen.

At any rate, if the files are missing from /boot, this sounds to me like a bug in grub-installer rather than in grub; reassigning to that installer component.

Evan (ev) wrote :

"...in the attempt of obviously (as reported by df) mounting several existing ntfs partitions from my drives into one mounting point (/var/lib/os-prober/mount) for whatever reason (looks like some known issues in mount.ntfs-3g 1.913...)."

This is os-prober trying to determine what operating systems are on the partitions on your disk. This is not a bug.

Evan (ev) wrote :

Nevermind, I misread your sentence.

Arno Waschk (bug-ubuntu) wrote :

But anyway, it hang not while searching for other OSs, but later when actually trying to mount the partitions (According to actual command-line parameters), which i consider a bug when hanging there for hours without activity and not even gracefully failing after a timeout and informing the user something might be wrong.

But what i was reporting is that the main installer thing call grub-installer in a too early situation (before knowing that it had a reasonable overview about my partitions, and their ability to be mounted by ntfs-3g for what ever reason), and permitted that grub thing to leave my system in an unbootable state (i could even reach my old windows installation nor a grub menu nor anything).

So i am not sure whether this bug is grub or brub-installer related.


Arno Waschk (bug-ubuntu) wrote :

not sure though...

Evan (ev) wrote :

It's mounting the partitions to determine what operating system is on them, so it can generate the human readable names in the grub menu, like "Windows XP Professional" and "Ubuntu 7.04". I imagine this is a bug in os-prober or grub-installer, but I'll need log files from a failing install attempt to be sure. Can you please run the install again in debug mode (`ubiquity --debug` from a terminal) and attach /var/log/syslog, /var/log/installer/debug, and the output of `ps auxf` to this bug report when it starts to hang?

Shimi Chen (shimi-chen) wrote :

Is this still relevant on a currently supported version of Ubuntu?

Changed in ubiquity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

[Expired for ubiquity (Ubuntu) because there has been no activity for 60 days.]

Changed in ubiquity (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Expired
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