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My Ubuntu 11.10 works perfectly until recently. In the past few days, it happens quite often that after I input my password to the login screen, Ubuntu shows only brown screen and gets stuck. No menus, no desktop icons, only a blank brown background, and pointer is movable. I have to press CTRL+ALT+DEL to reboot it. Then during booting, Ubuntu will check disk errors, then shows the login screen, and this time I can log into Ubuntu normally. Sometimes, I might even need to reboot several times. And this problem actually occurs long before, but only very occasionally at that time.

Some other information that might be relevant:

  1. I suspect that this problem is caused by some problems in my disk. There are 10 bad sectors in my disk according to SMART data. And I see disk error checking during booting from time to time.

  2. When this problems happens (after login, Ubuntu gets stuck and shows no desktop icons), I press CTRL+ALT+F1 and log into the computer, I cannot modifies anything in the computer. The disk is in readonly mode. Say I cannot save some edited text file, the shell shows the disk is read only.

  3. In disk utility's SMART data, the self tests is failed(read). I notice this after I did a fsck and then clicked on self test in disk utility. But I am not sure whether this is caused by doing fsck. Since before doing fsck, I didn't look at self tests.

  4. I am using EXT4 partion for Ubuntu, and it mounts three other NTFS partions. Will the NTFS partion's error cause this problem (if there are errors in NTFS partitions)? Or only the errors in EXT4 partion would cause this problem?


share|improve this question
Do a memory test. Press and hold Shift when your computer boots to see the Grub boot menu and select the memory test entry. Wait a few hours for the test to run. Memory errors can cause all kinds of strange behaviors. – Gilles Apr 15 '12 at 16:57
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Make a backup of your disk if you suspect error and experience boot problems already, if you haven't already made one.

Try a scan for bad blocks. Start by checking what partitions you have:

mount | grep sda

Then for Linux partition found do:

fsck.ext4 -ck /dev/sda7

where you replace 7 with the actual partion number.

There is also a badblocks command, but I'm not familiar with it. It seems to scan the device filesystem agnostic. In other words, the filesystem used doesn't matter.

man badblocks

Leave checking NTFS to Windows.

Allow some time to get this answer reviewed by other visitors.

share|improve this answer
/dev/sda7 on / type ext4 (rw,errors=remount-ro,user_xattr,commit=0) /dev/sda3 on /media/software type fuseblk (rw,nosuid,nodev,allow_other,blksize=4096,default_permissions) Should I use fsck.ext3 /dev/sda7? And sda3 is a NTFS partition, what should I do for it? – Fashandge Apr 15 '12 at 16:19
updated my post. – jippie Apr 15 '12 at 16:32
Thank you, jippie! After fsck.ext4 checking and repairing some disk errors, my Utuntu seems back to normal now! – Fashandge Apr 15 '12 at 19:50
cool! congrats :O) – jippie Apr 15 '12 at 20:41

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