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I've got several systems with an ext3 lv / that work just fine until fsck'd — then they are unrecoverably corrupted.

What hope do I have of repairing these systems, and, separately, what went wrong?

These are all old systems that began as 2.6 centos-ish boxes with several separate ext3 logical volumes: /, /var, and /unused. They were migrated to a modern Linux running kernel 3.4 by installing on the /unused partition and then booting to that new installation. Once running, the old / and /var were lvremove'd, and the new root was renamed and lvextend'ed to absorb the space. From what I've been able to gather, the new root was resize2fs'd live after the lvextend. (This might be the root of the problem.)

They all run fine until an fsck is forced, at which point the fsck complains mightily and renders the system unbootable (panic). Lots of errors like:

Inode 12345 has INDEX_FL flag set but is not a directory
Inode 67890, i_blocks is 1307617, should be 0.
Inode 34567, i_size is 5616670468207675, should be 0.
... and on and on, followed by lots of multiply claimed inodes, sometimes with ...
Error storing directory block information (inode=76543, block=0, num=98765432): Memory allocation failed

For context, the original partitions were created under CentOS' e2fsprogs-1.39-20, the resize2fs'ing under 1.42.9-4, and the current system is at CentOS' older (don't ask) 1.41.12-12.

  • Can you try to fsck with a recent version of e2fsprogs? – miniBill Feb 12 '15 at 18:07
  • @miniBill, I have pulled in 1.42-9 (from CentOS 7) but it doesn't change the fatal fsck outcome. – pilcrow Feb 12 '15 at 18:33
  • I see... Worth trying anyway =) – miniBill Feb 12 '15 at 18:34
  • Can you read the content of all the files inside the filesystem? – miniBill Feb 12 '15 at 18:34
  • @miniBill, yes - the fs operates totally normally (and comes up as expected after reboots). It's only when forcibly fsck'd that it becomes unrecoverable. – pilcrow Feb 12 '15 at 18:36
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To explicitly answer your questions:

Q: What hope do I have of repairing these systems?
A: Quite good since the fs is readable, but I'd plan on abandoning the current hard drive(s).

Q: Separately, what went wrong?
A: Unless you can definitively diagnose a hardware error (likely), you'll probably never know. You don't mention if you've looked for low-level I/O errors in the system log.

Since the file systems work before the fsck, I'd extend the VG with a new physical volume (an actual new, reliable hard drive), define a new LV on the new PV, copy over and retire the old drive(s), or at least run the manufacturer's diagnostics, wipe & reformat.

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