how to Solve Read-Only File System Error in Ubuntu

How to Solve “Read-Only File System” Error in Ubuntu?

  1. Restart your system.
  2. Check Disk and File System Errors
  3. Check and edit /etc/fstab file
  4. Remount the FileSystem in read-write mode
  5. Check Disk Space
  6. Check for Disk and hardware failures
  7. Solve the Linux-windows dual boot issue
  8. Check the file system type
  9. Check permissions and ownership
  10. Update your system

Sometimes, mounting the file system in Read-Only mode is a security measure to prevent data tampering and deletion. Some Linux users, by using chattr command, make files unchangeable to boost security.

Therefore, File limitations to protect important data may cause this error; in this situation, your system administrator can assist you in fixing this problem.

If you are using Ubuntu VPS and this error bothers you, don’t worry, this article will solve your problem.

Causes of “Read-Only File System” error in Ubuntu along with solutions

Before learning methods of troubleshooting the “Read-Only File System” error in Ubuntu Linux, you should know that you must have sudo privileges to fix this error.

1. File System inconsistency

If the file system fails or becomes inconsistent, Ubuntu will remount it by default, preventing writing on the file system. Therefore, you will receive the Read-Only File System error since Ubuntu, by default, prevents further file system damage.

Solution: Check Disk and File System Errors

To troubleshoot the Ubuntu Read Only File System error, check the file system using fsck command to identify and fix errors:

sudo fsck -Af

Or

sudo fsck -f /dev/sda1

Replace </dev/sda1> with the appropriate disk or partition in the previous command. You can also specify the file system type in the previous command.

As a result, using this command, you can fix file system errors and any errors on the disk.

2. Incorrect File System Configuration

The /etc/fstab file is a Ubuntu Linux system configuration file that contains information about disk drives, partitions, file systems, and how they are mounted.

/etc/fstab file is a vital file in Linux that is used to mount the file system when booting the system or running the Mount command. In addition, it is used to mount remote file systems when interacting with the file system of another device.

/etc/fstab file misconfiguration including, not setting file systems as read-write mode or existence of incorrect configuration entries in this file can cause file system errors in Ubuntu Linux.

Solution: Check and edit /etc/fstab file

Checking the /etc/fstab file can help solve this problem. To display the contents of the /etc/fstab file, run the following command in the Linux terminal:

cat /etc/fstab

Each line in the /etc/fstab file includes different fields with the following information:

  • device or file system UUID (Universally Unique Identifier)
  • mount point
  • file system type
  • Mount options (defaults, noatime, and errors=remount-ro)
  • Numerical field( 0 and 1 value) for disabling or enabling system file backup by dump
  • Numerical field for prioritizing the check of file systems (the value 1 is usually set for the root filesystem to be considered as a priority in the check.)

After carefully checking the contents of the /etc/fstab file, if you notice incorrect configuration or incorrect entries in the file, you should open the /etc/fstab file with your favorite editor, such as nano, to edit the file:

sudo nano /etc/fstab

Note:  you must have sudo privileges to edit the /etc/fstab file.

After editing the /etc/fstab file, save your changes by pressing the Ctrl + X and Y buttons and then press Enter.

To apply the new configuration of the /etc/fstab file, reboot or restart Ubuntu Linux in any way you know:

sudo reboot

Note: Be careful when editing the /etc/fstab configuration file because a mistake can cause irreparable damage, such as not booting the system. Thus, before modifying the /etc/fstab file, backup this crucial file.

In addition, after checking and configuring /etc/fstab file, open file and add the “fsck” option to the root partition line to check for file system errors at boot. For example:

sudo nano /etc/fstab
UUID=<your-uuid> / ext4 errors=remount-ro 0 1

Replace the UUID of your root partition with <your-uuid>, save the file, and reboot the system.

3. Mounting file system in a read-only state

Sometimes, due to the security and protection of important data, incorrect mount options and errors in the /etc/fstab file, the system file becomes read-only; For this reason, you will get the read only file system error in linux.

Solution: Remount the FileSystem

If the file system is mounted as read-only, you can remount the file system in read-write mode.

To remount the file system, execute the mount command with the “o” option as the root user and use the rw command to mount the file system with read and write permissions :

sudo mount -o remount,rw /

In the previous command, you can also specify the device name and mount point; for example, to remount the system file on a device named /dev/sda2 and /boot/efi mount point, run the following command:

sudo mount -o remount,rw /dev/sda2 /boot/efi

After running the previous command, reboot the Ubuntu system to apply the changes:

reboot

The Read-Only File System error should be resolved by running the previous commands as the disk errors are repaired. Otherwise, you should try other methods to fix the Debian read only file system error.

4. Insufficient Disk Space

If the disk is full, the system may mount the file system as read-only to prevent additional writing.

Solution: Check Disk Space

Make sure you have sufficient disk space available, for this purpose, run the following command to check disk space usage:

df -h

Thus, you can check the disk usage for all mounted file systems, and if the disk is full, delete unnecessary files and directories using rm and du commands, or move unused files to another disk to avoid problems caused by full disk space.

5. Disk or Hardware Issues

Physical disk problems, hardware failures, or storage device problems lead to a read-only file system error.

Solution: Check for Disk and hardware failures

Check and identify hardware problems using diagnostic tools like smartmontools and repair or replace the drive if needed or get help from an expert.

If you have not already installed the tool for checking disk health and its possible failures in Ubuntu, install Smartmontools through the following command:

sudo apt-get install smartmontools

Then, use the following command to check the status of the disk:

sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda

Replace /dev/sda with the appropriate disk identifier.

6. Linux and Windows Dual-Boot Issue

When you dual boot Windows alongside Ubuntu Linux, you may experience problems interacting with the file system if Windows is configured in fast startup mode.

Solution: Solve the Linux-windows dual boot issue

To solve the problems caused by the dual boot of Windows and Linux, first boot into your Windows system and follow the steps below:

Go to Start > power settings > additional power settings on right pane > Choose what the power buttons do> Change settings that are currently unavailable

Then, in the subsection of the “shutdown settings” section, uncheck the “Turn on fast startup” option and click the “Save changes” button.

Finally, boot into the Ubuntu system and reboot the system by running the following command:

sudo reboot

7. The file system does not support read-write mode

Some types of file systems do not support read-write mode; that’s why they are mounted read-only by default, and that’s why you see the Read-Only File System error in Ubuntu when managing the file system.

Solution: Check the file system type

If the file system type causes the read-only file system error, check the file system type:

mount | grep "^/dev"

As a result, knowing the file system type lets you check whether it supports read-write mode.

8. Permissions and Ownership Issues

Incorrect permissions and ownership on the file and directory may cause read-only file system errors.

Solution: Check permissions and ownership

To edit the permissions of files and change read-only file system to read-write in Linux, you can use the chmod and chown commands, which have already been taught how to use chown command  and chmod command to change the ownership and permissions of files and directories.

9. Software or Kernel Bugs

Don’t ignore the problems of the software and kernel of the operating system in causing the “Read-Only File system” error because bugs and issues of the kernel and software lead to the fact that the file system is mounted in read-only mode.

Solution: Update the system

Updating the Ubuntu system to the latest patches and updates helps to fix bugs. If the read-only file system issue is not resolved after updating the system, you can check the System Logs (/var/log/syslog, /var/log/messages, or /var/log/dmesg) and check the error messages and clues regarding the read-only file system.

Why can I not remove the read-only file system? How to remove it?

  • You might not have the necessary permissions (sudo) to delete or modify the file system.
  • File system errors might prevent modifying the file system, and you need to perform a file system check (using fsck on Linux) to repair any errors.
  • The file system could be corrupted, and you need to reformat or repair the file system.
  • The file system was mounted as (read-only), so remount it with the read-write option using mount -o remount,rw /mount/point command.

How to bypass read only file system Linux?

Remounting the file system as read-write is the way to bypass the read-only file system in Linux.

  1. Check the current mount status by running the ” mount ” command.
  2. Identify file system is read-only.
  3. Remount file system as read-write:
sudo mount -o remount,rw /mount/point

What causes a file system to be read-only?

  • Improper Shutdown due to a sudden power outage or system crash, prompting a read-only mount on reboot as a security measure.
  • Incorrect mount options due to typos or mistakes during the mounting.
  • Intentional Read-Only Mode for Critical system folders and external drives to protect data and the system from accidental modification and crash.
  • Physical damage or errors on Disk and or storage device.
  • Incorrect file system permissions may restrict write access.

How do I know if a Linux filesystem is read-only?

To check if a Linux file system is read-only, use the ” mount ” command without any arguments; seeing the “(ro)” option at the end of the line corresponding to that filesystem indicates that the filesystem is mounted as read-only.

How do I exit read only mode in Linux?

For exiting read-only mode in Linux, there are several methods depending on the cause:

  1. If you open the file in read-only mode in your editor (like Vim), you can force it to write by using the editor’s specific command, for example, the run :w! command in Vim.
  2. If the file system is mounted in read-only mode, you should remount it with read-write access.
  3. The chmod command in Linux with various options can assist you in changing file system permissions.

Best practices to prevent Read Only File System error

  • Regularly keep your system updated with the latest packages and security fixes.
  • Use A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to minimize the risk of power loss and file system corruption.
  • Regularly check the health of your file system and hardware by using the’ fsck ‘ command line tool or ‘smartmontools‘.
  • Keep sufficient disk space free on your system.
  • Install new software from repositories and trusted sources.
  • Ensure to set up the correct Configuration with Windows.
  • Use Journaling file systems like ext4 to prevent data corruption
  • Backup your important data to reduce data loss risk.

Conclusion

If none of the solutions solve read-only file system issues, the problem is likely caused by more serious failures in the hardware or file system, which is better to seek professional assistance to solve your problem.

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