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So I was using Ubuntu when suddenly the whole thing froze up and I had to reboot. And from that moment on, the system when it is starting up, prompts this little selection menu:

GNU GRUB version 1.99~rc1-13ubuntu3
Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.38-10-generic
ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.38-10-generic (recovery mode)
Previous Linux versions
Memory test (memtest86+)
Memory test (memtest86+, serial console 115200)

I have chosen all of the available choices but all I get is another command line system that reads:

BusyBox v1.17.1 (Ubuntu 1:1.17.1-10ubuntu1) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.


And honestly I can't do anything with it. Does anyone have any idea of what is going on and how I can get Ubuntu to work again?

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I keep getting same problem and finally I got the solution which works every time for me:

  1. boot your system with LIVE CD or Pendrive
  2. open terminal and execute sudo fsck /dev/sda1 (sda1 is generally used, if you have a different drive on which ubuntu is installed then give that)
  3. It may prompt you several times asking "y or n", in that case keep pressing Y.
  4. after process is over , reboot the system and remove the pendrive
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This is a rescue shell. With restricted command set.

Now it is time to get professional help to diagnose why your system doesn't boot up the normal way.

To solve it on your own, with nearly no knowledge, this takes some hours/days. First step is to examine the logfiles for hints, warnings and errors.

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I am a Linux rookie. You mean I should learn a lot to fix this problem? – Joseph Nov 28 '11 at 0:56
@Joseph Either that or get help from somebody (you personally know and who can assist you near the hardware). – mailq Nov 28 '11 at 1:03

fsck /dev/xxxx which xxx is your device for exemple sda1. Do it with root privileges. For doing it type exit on initramfs and repeat until prompted and wait. That should be on boot after open terminal and do all.

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Your system boot to initramfs, then fails to load kernel and then gives in minimal busybox shell to recover it. This may be caused by damaged data on hard drive, damaged RAM or motherboard or just inproper config of grub. If this is default Ubuntu installation, where grub uses disks UUID, this may not be caused by inserting something like pendrive, which makes grub mess up with disk ordering.

Boot from any LiveCD(like KNOPPIX) and try to diagnose where is the problem.

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type exit after the (initramfs) prompt. If (initramfs) appears again type exit. If it appears again type exit and if nothing seems to be happening just wait...and see if something happens. I have found that (initramfs) and exit go well together...

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