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I have had my machine working fine for a a long time and it never displayed the grub menu while booting. Now when I turn it on, it shows the grub menu but when I select the first option it gives an error about not being able to mount / . It's pretty clear that my hard drive is failing, except I am confused about how it is able to get as far as the grub menu. Isn't grub on the hard disk? I only have one hard disk so if grub is coming up, doesn't that indicate that my hard drive is working? If so, why won't it boot?

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closed as too localized by fossfreedom May 27 '12 at 18:25

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Did you try to boot in recovery-mode ? It could be corruption of some blocks which preventing booting of OS instead of complete hard disk failure. In such a case, you probably be able to mount some partitions to recover data if you connect this as a secondary drive to another working system. –  Jamess Jun 10 '11 at 12:00
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What is recovery-mode and how do I get to it? –  SpashHit Jun 10 '11 at 12:07
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If you are getting the grub menu, the second entry in grub menu will be a 'recovery mode' booting of same kernel in first line. See here for a sample image of a typical grub boot menu help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2. If you have multiple kernels installed, you can try booting an older kernel as well. –  Jamess Jun 10 '11 at 12:12
    
OP were you able to solve this problem? or you still need help? –  Mahesh Apr 13 '12 at 18:24
    
IIRC, I ended up reinstalling from a CD but not losing any data –  SpashHit Apr 16 '12 at 1:23

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