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I am trying to remove an rdiff backup folder as some problems occured during the backup and need to remove it's history and try again. However, when I run:

rm -r -f rdiff-backup-data 

I get the following on some of the files:

rm: cannot remove `X': Read-only file system

Here is what I get when I run mount:

/dev/sdb1 on /media/usbdisk type ext3 (rw)

So that shows the drive is rw?

ls -la /media/usbdisk gives the following:

[root@localhost v5]# ls -la /media/usbdisk
total 36
drwxr-xr-x  5 root root  4096 Mar 31  2010 .
drwxrwxrwx  9 root root  4096 Dec 15  2009 ..
drwxrwxrwx 39  501  501  4096 Aug 19 09:04 development-backup
drwx------  2 root root 16384 Mar 30  2010 lost+found
drwxr-xr-x  8 root  501  4096 Aug 19 00:00 officeshare-backup

Anyone know what is going on and how to fix it?


found out the drive was ro in /proc/mounts so ran the remount command mentioned below and got the following:

ext3_abort called.
EXT3-fs error (device sda1): ext3_remount: Abort forced by user
mount: block device LABEL=USBDISK1 is write-protected, mounting read-only
ext3_abort called.
EXT3-fs error (device sda1): ext3_remount: Abort forced by user
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Can you posts the ouput of mount? – Bart De Vos Aug 24 '11 at 8:59
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Depending on the state of things, the output of mount may not reflect reality. You're far better of with cat /proc/mounts, which is guaranteed to show you the actual mount table, wherein you'll probably find that it's actually mounted read-only. You can fix this with mount -o remount,rw /mount/point. If that command errors out, then your filesystem is hosed in some way; a fsck (at the very least) is in order. You don't need to stop the entire system to fsck a partition, just that partition needs to be unmounted.

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cheers, now i just need to know… (can i run fsck, if unmounted but users might still try to access using its mount location) – David Aug 24 '11 at 9:16

You could try remounting the device and seeing where that leads

mount -o remount,rw /media/usbdisk

If that doesn't work then you'll probably need to fsck the device

umount /dev//media/usbdisk
fsck /dev/sdb1

You may need to use the -f option to umount for force it to be unmounted though.

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Can you run fsck on a partition if other partitions are mounted and running? That won't cause any problems? I have read that its best to go into single-user mode and don't allow any changes. – David Aug 24 '11 at 9:10
You are safe to run fsck on unmounted devices. If it really bothers you though, as this is a USB device, you can always unplug it and use a different system to fsck it. – Iain Aug 24 '11 at 9:19

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