Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've got a remote appliance, and its disk IO seems to have locked up, trying to run anything that isn't already loaded results in errors like this:

$ sudo shutdown -r 0
sudo: Can't open /var/lib/sudo/<machine_name>/0: Read-only file system
sudo: unable to execute /sbin/shutdown: Input/output error

I have SSH access to the appliance. I'm hoping that restarting the box will fix this (if not I have to go replace the box), but trying to restart it yields the above output.

Anyone have any ideas???

share|improve this question
sudo is refusing to run because it can't write its timestamp. I am not aware of any way to fix this. You may need have someone with physical access reboot the system for you. – Zoredache Jan 28 '11 at 23:25

I don't mean for this to be trite, but are you able to su -? Sudo's a wonderful tool, but when things are b0rked, it can get in the way; and that's an appropriate time to genuinely switch user to root, fix what needs fixing and get back to a normal operating state where you can again rely upon sudo.

Alternatively, do you have remote KVM access to the console? If things are really broken and you can't even start a shell for root, then you're probably looking at a physical hard reset.

I hope this helps; good luck!

share|improve this answer
I agree. This is a good time to use su or ssh root@machinename to get direct root access. Otherwise it's hard reboot time. – egorgry Mar 20 '11 at 19:53

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.