boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

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boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Karl Auer
I have a colleague whose Ubuntu 16.04 PC is dropping to a "grub>"
prompt. If he enters "exit", the grub prompt just returns. If he enters
"exit" a second time, the boot process proceeds normally. He says he
sometimes has to "exit" a third time.

Well, mostly normally - except at no stage does he see the usual grub
boot selection menu. This was a problem because in a separate issue he
had screwed up his password and could not get to the recovery option. I
fixed the password issue by booting off a USB stick, chrooting to the
old disk and running passwd.

Using "ls" at the grub prompt shows two disks, but the second one seems
to have errors:

(hd1) error: failure reading sector 0xfc from 'hd1'
error: failure reading sector 0xe0 from 'hd1'
error: failure reading sector 0x0 from 'hd1'

It goes past too fast to see, but after entering "exit" and before the
grub prompt reappears, or after entering "exit" and before the boot
process clears the screen, we are seeing what could be similar messages
flash up - a group of maybe six or seven of them.

Although he could continue to boot (off the first disk), the second
disk was not visible after booting - "fdisk -l" showed only the first
disk.

The disk involved is a 3TB WD Black. It's less than a year old, and has
barely been used. It hasn't been abused either.

A possibly related symptom - grub takes quite a long time to appear,
longer than it used to. This is quite a fast system, so the delay is
unexpected. When booted, the entire system seems to be running slowly,
also unexpected. Not sure how that would be hanging together with the
sector read error...

Thoughts? My feeling is that this is a defective hard disk and should
be replaced under guarantee.

Regards, K.

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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Colin Law
On 28 June 2017 at 13:19, Karl Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:
> ...
> Thoughts? My feeling is that this is a defective hard disk and should
> be replaced under guarantee.

Start by running the Disks utility and checking the Smart data.

Also look in /var/log/syslog to find any error messages.

Colin

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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Karl Auer
On Wed, 2017-06-28 at 13:26 +0100, Colin Law wrote:
> Start by running the Disks utility and checking the Smart data.

I'll try that - but the second disk is not visible to the system.
"fdisk -l" doesn't show it. So I suspect that neither of those
utilities will be able to see the disk either.

> Also look in /var/log/syslog to find any error messages.

Yes. I'm a bit hampered by this system not being on the Internet. But I
will go visit him and see what we can see.

Regards, K.

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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Colin Law
On 28 June 2017 at 13:41, Karl Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, 2017-06-28 at 13:26 +0100, Colin Law wrote:
>> Start by running the Disks utility and checking the Smart data.
>
> I'll try that - but the second disk is not visible to the system.
> "fdisk -l" doesn't show it. So I suspect that neither of those
> utilities will be able to see the disk either.
>
>> Also look in /var/log/syslog to find any error messages.
>
> Yes. I'm a bit hampered by this system not being on the Internet. But I
> will go visit him and see what we can see.

Which disk is it booting off? Assuming it is the one that it *is*
seeing then unplug the other one and see if it is then ok.

I agree it seems like a hardware issue. You could try swapping round
the connections to the discs to rule out the cable.

You have not said whether all was working ok and then it stopped, or
whether the problem started when you connected the second disc.

Colin

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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Karl Auer
On Wed, 2017-06-28 at 14:13 +0100, Colin Law wrote:
> Which disk is it booting off? Assuming it is the one that it *is*
> seeing then unplug the other one and see if it is then ok.

I'm actually no longer convinced there is a second physical disk.

When grub talks about hd0 and hd1, are those separate physical disks?
Or could they be partitions?

> You have not said whether all was working ok and then it stopped, or
> whether the problem started when you connected the second disc.

It was working OK and then it stopped.

Regards, K.

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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:30:30 +1000, Karl Auer wrote:
>When grub talks about hd0 and hd1, are those separate physical disks?
>Or could they be partitions?

I'm using syslinux, but I used GRUB legacy as well as GRUB 2 for
several years, before I migrated to syslinux.

hd0 and hd1 are two separated disks. Partitions are comma-separated,
e.g. hd1,1 or hd1,8 or hd1,msdos15 .

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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Colin Law
In reply to this post by Karl Auer
On 29 June 2017 at 02:30, Karl Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, 2017-06-28 at 14:13 +0100, Colin Law wrote:
>> Which disk is it booting off? Assuming it is the one that it *is*
>> seeing then unplug the other one and see if it is then ok.
>
> I'm actually no longer convinced there is a second physical disk.
>
> When grub talks about hd0 and hd1, are those separate physical disks?
> Or could they be partitions?
>
>> You have not said whether all was working ok and then it stopped, or
>> whether the problem started when you connected the second disc.
>
> It was working OK and then it stopped.

I suggest starting by unplugging the connectors to the discs and
reconnecting them. It is not unknown for a dodgy connection to give
intermittent operation and reseating them may repair the connection.

Colin

>
> Regards, K.
>
> --
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Karl Auer ([hidden email])
> http://www.biplane.com.au/kauer
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>
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>
>
>
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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Karl Auer
On Thu, 2017-06-29 at 08:33 +0100, Colin Law wrote:
> > It was working OK and then it stopped.
> I suggest starting by unplugging the connectors to the discs and
> reconnecting them. It is not unknown for a dodgy connection to give
> intermittent operation and reseating them may repair the connection.

Well, we'll try that. However, it's not intermittent in that sense. It
ALWAYS fails into the grub menu, and ALWAYS successfully boots after the second "exit". The person concerned says it sometimes needs three "exits", but I've not seen it and he's not 100% certain of it.

What puzzles me is the hd0/hd1 thing. How could hd1 appear if there is
no second physical disk?

I hope to have my actual hands on it tomorrow some time.

Regards, K.

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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Thu, 29 Jun 2017 18:10:17 +1000, Karl Auer wrote:
>What puzzles me is the hd0/hd1 thing. How could hd1 appear if there is
>no second physical disk?

On Wed, 28 Jun 2017 22:41:27 +1000, Karl Auer wrote:
>I will go visit him and see what we can see.

An USB stick or something similar? You could advise him by telephone
how to check boot and drive related BIOS settings and to remove
equipment such as USB stick.


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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Thu, 29 Jun 2017 20:20:36 +0200, Ralf Mardorf wrote:

>On Thu, 29 Jun 2017 18:10:17 +1000, Karl Auer wrote:
>>What puzzles me is the hd0/hd1 thing. How could hd1 appear if there is
>>no second physical disk?  
>
>On Wed, 28 Jun 2017 22:41:27 +1000, Karl Auer wrote:
>>I will go visit him and see what we can see.  
>
>An USB stick or something similar? You could advise him by telephone
>how to check boot and drive related BIOS settings and to remove
>equipment such as USB stick.

PS: Keep in mind, man hat schon Pferde vor der Apotheke kotzen gesehen.
Es wird irgend einen blöden, achso-achja-Grund geben. The pitfall most
likely is caused by the blind remote diagnostics.

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Re: boot drops to grub prompt, disk error

Joel Rees
In reply to this post by Karl Auer
On Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 5:10 PM, Karl Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Thu, 2017-06-29 at 08:33 +0100, Colin Law wrote:
>> > It was working OK and then it stopped.
>> I suggest starting by unplugging the connectors to the discs and
>> reconnecting them. It is not unknown for a dodgy connection to give
>> intermittent operation and reseating them may repair the connection.
>
> Well, we'll try that. However, it's not intermittent in that sense. It
> ALWAYS fails into the grub menu, and ALWAYS successfully boots after the second "exit". The person concerned says it sometimes needs three "exits", but I've not seen it and he's not 100% certain of it.
>
> What puzzles me is the hd0/hd1 thing. How could hd1 appear if there is
> no second physical disk?
>
> I hope to have my actual hands on it tomorrow some time.
>

My son has a recent ASUS laptop which sometimes loses track of its (only) disk.

Internal connectors that are almost criminally shallow get knocked loose.

There's a brace over the connector, and I have to wonder whether the
brace ends up eating all the manufacturing savings from the shallow
connector. I don't think the brace is also a heatsink.

Which is to say, don't be surprised if modern hardware can't seem to
stay connected. Too many corners being cut to protect the entrenched
IP holders.

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