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Using the "Rescue System" on the installation CD to repair a broken system

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Kirk Coombs

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Posted: 3 Jun 2005

Accessing a broken system

Novell/SUSE Linux provides a means to access and repair a system that won't start. Simply boot from CD1 of the distribution's installation media and select "Rescue System." A Linux system will boot, independent of the system installed on the hard disk. When presented with a login prompt, simply login as root. No password is necessary.

From here, various administrative tool such as fdisk or fsck can be used. One of the most powerful tools is the ability to chroot, or change root, into the installed system. Once inside the installed system, configuration files can be edited or programs such as YaST can be run. To chroot into a system, perform the following steps:

  1. Create a directory to mount the root file system of the installed system to. For example:
    # mkdir rootdir
  2. Mount the root file system of the installed system to the new directory. For example, if the root file system is /dev/hda2:
    # mount /dev/hda2 rootdir
  3. Execute the chroot command to change to the root directory of the installed system:
    # chroot rootdir
    Notice that the root directory is now the installed system's root. (i.e. 'ls /' shows exactly what would be shown if the installed system were running. The rescue system is no longer visible.)
  4. Perform any administrative tasks necessary to get the system to boot again. For example, if the problem was with the boot loader, edit the boot loader settings by executing
    # yast bootloader
    or by editing the configuration files manually.
  5. When the administrative tasks are complete, exit the chroot environment:
    # exit
  6. Unmount the root file system:
    # umount rootdir
  7. Reboot the system:
    # reboot

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