46
Root
273d

(Written March 13th at 2am.)

This morning (yesterday), my computer decided not to boot again: it halts on "cannot find firmware rtl-whatever" every time. (it has booted just fine several times since removing the firmware.) I've had quite the ordeal today trying to fix it, and every freaking step along the way has thrown errors and/or required workarounds and a lot of research.

Let's make a list of everything that went wrong!

1) Live CD: 2yo had been playing with it, and lost it. Not easy to find, and super smudgy.

2) Unencrypt volume: Dolphin reports errors when decrypting the volume. Research reveals the Live CD doesn't incude the cryptsetup packages. First attempts at installing them mysteriously fail.

3) Break for Lunch: automatic powersaving features turned off the displays, and also killed my session.

4) Live CD redux: 25min phonecall from work! yay, more things added to my six-month backlog.

5) Mount encrypted volume: Dolphin doesn't know how, and neither do I. Research ensues. Missing LVM2 package; lvmetad connection failure ad nauseam; had to look up commands to unlock, clone, open, and mount encrypted Luks volume, and how to perform these actions on Debian instead of Ubuntu/Kali. This group of steps took four hours.

6) Chroot into mounted volume group: No DNS! Research reveals how to share the host's resolv with the chroot.

7) `# apt install firmware-realtek`: /boot/initrd.img does not exist. Cannot update.

8) Find and mount /boot, then reinstall firmware: Apt cannot write to its log (minor), listed three install warnings, and initially refused to write to /boot/initrd.img-[...]

9) Reboot!: Volume group not found. Cannot process volume group. Dropping to a shell! oh no..

(Not listed: much research, many repeated attempts with various changes.)

At this point it's been 9 hours. I'm exhausted and frustrated and running out of ideas, so I ask @perfectasshole for help.
He walks me through some debugging steps (most of which i've already done), and we both get frustrated because everything looks correct but isn't working.

10) Thirteenth coming of the Live CD: `update-initramfs -u` within chroot throws warnings about /etc/crypttab and fsck, but everything looks fine with both. Still won't boot. Editing grub config manually to use the new volume group name likewise produces no boots. Nothing is making sense.

11) Rename volume group: doubles -'s for whatever reason; Rebooting gives the same dreaded "dropping to a shell" result.

A huge thank-you to @perfectasshole for spending three hours fighting with this issue with me! I finally fixed it about half an hour after he went to bed.

After renaming the volume group to what it was originally, one of the three recovery modes managed to actually boot and load the volume. From there I was able to run `update-initramfs -u` from the system proper (which completed without issue) and was able to boot normally thereafter.

I've run updates and rebooted twice now.
After twelve+ hours... yay, I have my Debian back!

oof.

Comments
  • 10
  • 14
    That bloody firmware package is causing me the same network issues again, but at least my computer works!

    Seriously. I pinged google's dns and one of the responses took EIGHTY SIX FREAKING SECONDS! (and plenty more took well over 50 seconds). wth?
  • 8
    As much as I love Linux, stories like these are why it's not ready for the mainstream desktop yet.

    But hey, at least you got it working again!
  • 10
    @RiderExMachina I wouldn't generalize that on Linux itself. I've ran systems which have been stable for years without any problem, my parents have been on the same Linux system without a problem for five years now.

    For me it's windows which fucks up whenever I use it (don't have to use it anymore luckily).

    Not saying this rant isn't valid in any way, hell I helped her debugging for a little, but generalizing one entire system because it fucks up for one person.... :)
  • 2
    @Root Wish I could have helped. I have fixed so many issues with Linux in the past 😅

    Specifically, I could have helped you with the crypto and lvm stuff. I'd bet the commands you needed were:

    vgchange -ay
    cryptsetup /dev/mapper/debian-root dr_crypt
    mount /dev/mapper/dr_crypt /mnt/os_root

    Also, when chrooting from a live disk to your OS's main folder, if you want to run commands, it's good to do the following:

    mount -o rbind /dev/ /mnt/os/dev
    mount -o rbind /sys/ /mnt/os/sys
    mount -o rbind /proc/ /mnt/os/proc
    mount -o rbind /run/ /mnt/os/run

    It'll allow you to run Grub commands and initramfs commands from the chroot shell.
  • 2
    Sudo apt-get install -reinstall (two dashes) firmware-realtek in a chroot. Check the gentoo install guide for proper binding inside a chroot and don’t forget to mount all volumes.
  • 0
    @PhilWerman Oh I'm not saying that Linux distro's don't have problems. I'm just saying that giving this rant as reason as for why Linux wouldn't be (according to you) suitable as a desktop system isn't something I can agree on as you're talking about one system against hundreds of other distro's.

    Also, most people don't have 'advanced' stuff like hdd encryption!
  • 2
    @Root You're British ?
  • 2
    @notroot Niet.
  • 1
    I don't know why, but I imagined this story in a book with a title like "linux adventures".
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