SUMMARY: fsck dies while trying to access a disk

From: Richard Bajusz (
Date: Wed Jun 28 2000 - 15:57:44 CDT

Original question:
> All,
> I'm having trouble with a disk that fsck can't handle. When booting the
> system (Ultra 2, Solaris 2.6) I'm prompted to run fsck manually on an
> external drive. When I do so fsck quits with the error:
> Cannot alloc -654490124 bytes for inphead
> The disk is an 8 GB Seagate (ST39173W).
> I've tried replacing the super block with "fsck -b ..." only to get the
> same error.
> I've also gone into format and did a "refresh" to read and rewrite every
> sector. No errors came up, so I assume that there is no hardware
> problem. My only guess is that fsck is reading bogus information off
> the disk, and without any sanity checking tries to allocate an absurd
> amount of memory.
> Any suggestions or pointers will be greatly appreciated,
> Rich B.

Thanks for the quick responses!

Several people pointed out that this is a known bug and that Sun has a patch
Casper Dik was right when he said it would be tough to install. I couldn't
install it at all because Sun wouldn't let me have it! We have a software
subscription with Sun, not a service contract.

I ended up taking the advice of several other people and mounted the disk
read-only, and tar'ed it up to tape. Then I newfs'ed the disk and untar'ed
everything back.
Some data was lost in the end. We now have a few directories full of zero
length files.

Thanks for all your help. I didn't know that a damaged filesystem that
won't mount read-write can still be mounted read-only.

Sigh. I think the system's users might just start doing a backup or two
with the tape drive I left them. They might even use the UPS that I found
sitting idle on the floor under the desk.


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