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My file system recently experienced multiple failures. An fsck from an old live cd I had laying around (Hardy) was able to repair things enough that I could boot my system (xubuntu 9.10 I think) but there's now lots of missing files causing random things to fail.

I attempted to reinstall some of the packages that are missing files but turns out debconf is one of those! In particular it seems to be missing several perl files in the /usr/share/perl5/Debconf/ path. Short of doing a full reinstall (I'm downloading 11.10 as I type this), I thought it might be an interesting exercise to find out if there's a way I can recover this system in place (that is, without resorting to a full reinstall).

Wired and wireless internet access are both still working and able to fetch packages, I just can't do anything with them currently. When synaptic first failed, I fell back to using apt-get but that didn't help any. Is there even lower level package management scripts I could use? My knowledge of handling .debs doesn't go much beyond the basics of installing/updating/etc via apt-get or a wrapper like synaptic.

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Well, honestly, it sounds very much as if your hard drive is failing.

As such, IMO,your first task should be to recover and back up any data you do not wish to loose.

You can try to restore the system, but it would essentially amount to a re-installation anyway, so really you are best off with a new hard drive and fresh install.

To somewhat answer your question, as you can see, fdisk did not recover any data, it just marked various sectors on your hard dive as unusable, so you have random chunks of data missing.

Even if you are able to repair it, once it gets to this point, I would consider the hard drive completely unreliable with complete failure imminent.

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Thanks for the cheery answer. :) I use this box purely as a media server with all the actual media files on a separate, external USB drive. As such, I'm not particularly worried about future disk failures, there's nothing important for me to lose. I was more just curious about the general recovery options in a scenario where most things work but certain key files are missing (for whatever reason), causing simple solutions like upgrading or reinstalling packages to fail. –  Rob Van Dam Dec 3 '11 at 22:33

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