David B. van Balen on 20 Aug 2011 11:34:11 -0700

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[PLUG] Debian unstable locking up and corrupting filesystem

I've been having a recurring problem the past few weeks where my system will suddenly lock up. If this happens while I'm at the computer, I'll be able to move the mouse pointer around, but none of the apps will respond. If it happens when I'm not around, I'll come back to a blank screen and the computer won't respond at all. In all cases, there's nothing to do other than a hard reboot, after which ext3 says it can't replay the journal and I'll have various filesystem issues until I run an fsck. It happened again yesterday, and now the system won't boot.After the grub menu, I get a bunch of stuff like:

[   13.720864] ata1.00: status: { DRDY ERR }
[   13.720905] ata1.00: error: {UNC }
[   13.744497] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, secdtor 195523

followed by messages about not being able to mount /dev, /sys and /proc because there's "No such file or directory" and I'll get dumped at a BusyBox prompt (when I type "help" I don't see an option to run fsck, so I'll have to see if I can figure out another way to run it).

In any case, I think this started happening shortly after Debian started packaging my ati firmware drivers in non-free, or some such. I had been getting errors at startup about not being able to load some firmware files, so I finally installed the appropriate packages about a week ago and got rid of the firmware error on startup. I figured that would fix the issue, but obviously that wasn't the case.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what might be causing this? It's becoming very annoying. Other than the firmware thing, the only significant change I can think of happening recently is that my kernel got swapped out for a -pae kernel (I have a 64 bit AMD processor that I'm running a 32 bit OS on), and the kernel was also upgraded to 3.0 recently, but I think I might've been having this issue before that upgrade.
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