near disaster averted - "can not find /dev/by-id/xxxx"

Michael Hirsch mdhirsch at
Wed May 19 15:21:46 UTC 2010

On Wed, May 19, 2010 at 8:54 AM, Goh Lip <g.lip at> wrote:
> O. Sinclair wrote:
>> Goh Lip wrote:
>>> On Wed, 19 May 2010 14:40:13 +0200
>>> "O. Sinclair" <o.sinclair at> wrote:
>>>> Have no idea what happened but if this helps someone landing in the
>>>> same trouble then it is worth the effort of documenting it.
>>>> I am still on Karmic with all updates. Last night I was online and
>>>> left the computer on over the night. No problems, all worked this
>>>> morning. Shut it down to take it to where I am currently working (it
>>>> is a laptop and I am currently travelling).
>>>> On next boot I get to the splash and then I get "BSOD" - Black Screen
>>>> of Death. A black monitor, no activity or message or anything.
>>>> Reboot and go to "recovery option" that after a while ends up with
>>>> the line: ...can not find /dev/by-id/xxxx long string of UUID here
>>>> I am dropped into Busybox shell and can do nothing worthwhile. I
>>>> reboot with a usb flash I have and can see that all works and the
>>>> disks are there (one disk, 3 partitions including swap). I check
>>>> grub.cfg, I check /etc/fstab and all LOOKS perfect. But no boot.
>>>> I tried the 3-4 kernels and none worked. Scouted around internet for a
>>>> solution and there were a few suggestion ranging from rebuilding the
>>>> kernel to what eventually worked and was simple:
>>>> on bootup get into the Grub menu by hitting ESC, Shift or both
>>>> choose a "recovery kernel",  I chose an earlier than the latest just
>>>> to be on safe side
>>>> press "e" to get to edit mode
>>>> replace all UUID-strings with /dev/sda(your root number), in my case
>>>> /dev/sda2
>>>> press ctrl+x to boot with those settings
>>>> drop to a root shell
>>>> run update-grub
>>>> reboot
>>>> all worked as before.... except now grub.cfg points to /dev/sda2
>>>> instead of /dev/uuid-string
>>>> Phew,
>>>> Sinclair
>>> You've 'sudo update-grub' and grub.cfg shows /dev/sda2?
>>> Strange.  You may want to double check that.
>>> But glad you've got this sorted out.
>>> Regards - Goh Lip
>> after manually editing the grub as described I dropped to a root-shell.
>> So no need for "sudo" but update-grub. And yes, following that /dev/sda2
>> has replaced /dev/uuid-endless-string
> Sinclair, sorry for being so persistent, but I find that unusual, so I
> replicated your steps, using older kernel, dev/sdax, recovery mode,
> root-shell, update-grub (no sudo), reboot and checked the grub.cfg.

If I understand what Sinclair wrote, he manually replaced the
UUID-stuff with the appropriate /dev/sdx.  This will certainly work.

These UUID problems shows once again that labels are often a better
way to go.  Label your partitions and mount by label.  Labels won't
change when you expand partitions, etc.

That said, I don't understand how or why Sinclair's UUIDs got changed.


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