Ubuntu – How to fix “sudo: unable to open … Read-only file system”


The title might not be as descriptive as I would like it to be but couldn't come up with a better one.

My server's file system went into Read-only. And I don't understand why it does so and how to solve it.

I can SSH into the server and when trying to start apache2 for example I get the following :

username@srv1:~$ sudo service apache2 start
[sudo] password for username:
sudo: unable to open /var/lib/sudo/username/1: Read-only file system
 * Starting web server apache2                                                                                                                                                                                                               (30)Read-only file system: apache2: could not open error log file /var/log/apache2/error.log.
Unable to open logs
Action 'start' failed.
The Apache error log may have more information.

When I try restarting the server I get :

username@srv1:~$ sudo shutdown -r now
[sudo] password for username:
sudo: unable to open /var/lib/sudo/username/1: Read-only file system

Once I restart it manually it just start up without any warning or message saying something is wrong.

I hope somebody could point me into the right direction to resolve this issue.

Best Answer

The filesystem will usually go into read-only while the system is running if there is a filesystem consistency issue. This is specified in fstab as errors=remount-ro and will occur when a FS access fails or an emergency read-only remount is requested via Alt+SysRq+U. You can run:

sudo fsck -Af -M

to force a check of all filesystems. As one of the other answers states, looking at dmesg is also very helpful.

Edit: Don't forget the -M on the command-line.

NOTE: As mentioned by Bibhas in his answer: If fsck gets stuck after its version banner:

$ sudo fsck -Af -M
fsck from util-linux 2.20.1

you may want to try using the EXT4-specific fsck

$ sudo fsck.ext4 -f /dev/sda1

Provided the partition in question /dev/sda1 was an ext4 filesystem.

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