OpenSuse 12.1 sudden issue in bootup (ata1: COMREST FAILED)

Since last night (February 25, 2013) suddenly, I have been experinecing OpenSuse 12.1 bootup problem.

PC: Dell Inspiron
HDD: WD 500 GB
OS: OpenSuse 12.1

Problem description:

  1. At power on, DELL’s BIOS is loaded
  2. GRUB starts to be loaded, the OpenSuse’s green startup screen appears with its logo
  3. The screen flickers (which is normal) and reappears back with the logo’s moving eye (waiting for the desktop to be appeared)
  4. Suddenly, the desktop loading aborts and a black screen appears (still a grey coloured OpenSuse logo appears at the top left of the screen) with scrolling error messages
  5. The last line I captured, “ata1: COMREST FAILED”
  6. After 4 or 5 power cycle try, the desktop appeared as expected
  7. After the desktop appears normally, I didn’t have any problem in running the applications
  8. This morning, it happened again (but started after 6th try of power cycle)


  1. From my experience, the problem might be in the boot loader (I am not sure, please enlighten me), is there any fix of this problem ?
  2. Can I backup whole disk putting in a separate machine (as a secondary disk) also running OpenSuse 12.1

Thanks in advance for helping me with your suggestions and advice.


To me it looks like failing hardware somewhere. And backups should be made regularly before something fails :frowning:

Thanks Henk for your advice.
Could you please give some idea how could I backup my data ?
Am not asking for external drive (it is one of many solutions) backup, is there anything built in with OpenSuse so that I could run and copy to another internal secondary drive ?

My question may sound “stupid”, but I need a faster action and easier solution to protect my applications and data.


Sounds a bit negative, I know. But I did not say for nothing that you should have organised your backups long ago. In fact from the day you use the system. A system is not well managed when there is not a backup policy (and a policy that is put into real doing things).

Backing up to another disk of your /home partition (no need IMHO to backup the system, a reinstall is almost as quick) can e.g. be done using rsync.

But first you should sit down and design a policy. What are the cases you want to backup for. A file deleted by accident and to be retrieved from the backup? A file modified beyond recognistion two weeks ago and you find out now and you want it back from last month’s backup? A broken disk? A broken and burnt out sysstem? A burnt out house?
There is no single backup solution.

Of course you can easily use an internal drive for backups!

My question: do you have one?

And if you have a second internal drive, why do you pose this last question?
You could have backed up your data already to that drive, before your last posting.

OK, here is my answer in short, my secondary internal drive was not connected to the SATA, so it was sitting idle and inert.

Now please help me with these questions so that I could use this secondary HDD as destination drive for backup:
0. I ONLY need to backup my /home

  1. Do I need to install OpenSuse 12.1 OS on that secondary HDD before using as my backup destination ?
  2. (I assume), #1 is not necessary, because, if the secondary HDD is connected to the PC, it should be recognized by the system (e.g. df -h)
  3. Say, I made the backup of /home on a HDD without any OS installed and the original HDD got fully damaged, in that case, can I install OS on the backup HDD without corrupting my backup files ?
  4. In my case, which utility would be more user friendly, dd or clonezilla



1 is totally optional no need
2 yes and no it must be mounted to be seen but basically yes
3 Yes just don’t format the backup partition and mount it as /home
4 well depends on how comfortable you are with the command line dd is actually easier if you understand it and you can always just put the backup procedure in a script makes it real simple then


Thanks gogalthorp for your helpful reply.
I’ll go for dd.
According to the description at, I understand, the very first step would be to unmount both target and destination partitions.

Now a question: how can I unmount my /home partition from terminal, while terminal itself is under /home ?

You can’t I don’t think the umount is needed but you could log into init level 3 ( ie terminal mode) as root and umount the partitions (except for root / of course). Or you could boot from a CD and copy with that.

At the end of making backup of /home partition (using dd utility command, Figure-4 of this link]( from the old HDD to a newly added HDD, I encounter the following error message:

linux-z583:~ # dd if=/dev/sdb3 of=/dev/sda4
dd: reading '/dev/sdb3': Input/Output error
40271798+0 records in
40271798+0 records out
296191607808 bytes (206 GB) copied, 8828.07 s, 23.4 MB/s
linux-z583:~ #

What I have done are as below:

  1. Added a new internal HDD (1TB in size, to an available SATA port on the motherboard)
  2. Disconnected the old HDD which has OpenSuse 12.1 running (by disconnecting the SATA power and data cable from motherboard)
  3. Installed OpenSuse 12.3 to the newly added HDD after making 3 partitions while installing OpenSuse 12.3 (one partition is 250 GB intended for /home backup from old HDD)
  4. After installation of the OpenSuse 12.3 to the new HDD, the old HDD was connected to the motherboard (SATA cable and PS cable connected)
  5. Started the OpenSuse 12.1 (from old HDD) and logged in as root from the login GUI
  6. Checked the disk information (refer to Figure 1,2,3 Disk Information, Hard Disk and Device Graphs screen shot), can see the all partitions including new HDD, from the screen shots, it is clearly shown that the /home partition of old HDD is mapped to /dev/sdb3 and the intended backup destination partition is /dev/sda4
  7. Issued a command:
dd if=/dev/sdb3 of=/dev/sda4
  1. After the dd execution was over (Figure-4 of this link](, rebooted the machine and made both HDD available (both SATA turned ON from BIOS setup)
  2. The 12.3 can’t be started, it does all initialization but doesn’t bring the login GUI

Could you please help me where I made mistake(s) or what went wrong ?

…additional information to my previous posting (#10):

I get this message on the startup console while starting 12.3:

doing fast boot
Creating device nodes with udev
Welcome to emergency mode ! logging in type "journalctl -b" to view
system logs, "systemctl reboot" to reboot, "systemctl default" to try again
to boot into default mode,
GIve root password for login:

Note: If I over write the previous install (12.3) by re-installing, everything works fine !

It may be a user ID problem the user ID may need to be changed on the files copied from the old system.

User name is just a convenience the real identification is through the UID number. If you log in tothe new system and the UID number of your home directory does not match the new one for the new install (assuming the same user name) then it will not start. Be default the first user UID is 1000.

…this reply has reference from previous postings #10 and #11

Hi gogalthorp:
Things are more interesting than I imagined.

After your posting (above quoted), I checked my both HDDs (HDD1: retiring one with 12.1 and HDD2: new one with 12.3) here are more detail and findings:

  1. HDD1 had two users “jrahman” and “rokeya” with UID=1000 and 1001 respectively (OpenSuse 12.1)
  2. (for convenience and easy to remember) I have created only user “jrahman” in HDD2 which has the same UID=1000 as in HDD1
  3. When I cloned the /home partition (/dev/sdb3) of HDD1 to (/dev/sda4) of HDD2 by dd command, it completed the cloning (as mentioned in earlier posting)
  4. When I mount the cloned partition (/dev/sda4) of HDD2, I don’t see anything under “jrahman” folder, but “rokeya” folder has everything as it was in HDD1 (see below)

linux-x4ab:/mnt # mount /dev/sda4 /mnt/other_home/
linux-x4ab:/mnt # cd /mnt
linux-x4ab:/mnt # cd other_home/
linux-x4ab:/mnt/other_home # ls -rtl
total 24
drwx------   2 root    root  16384 Jan 27  2011 lost+found
drwxr-xr-x  35    1001 users  4096 Jul 22  2011 rokeya
drwxr-xr-x 103 jrahman users  4096 Apr  1 00:50 jrahman
linux-x4ab:/mnt/other_home # ls -rtl jrahman
total 0

linux-x4ab:/mnt/other_home # ls rokeya
.Xauthority    .config      .fonts     .gnome2_private  .inputrc     .profile             .skel          .xinitrc.template  Music      bin
.adobe         .dbus        .gconf     .gtkrc-2.0-kde4  .kde4        .pulse               .thumbnails    .xsession-errors   Pictures   public_html
.bash_history  .dmrc        .gconfd    .gvfs            .local       .pulse-cookie        .vimrc         Desktop            Public
.bashrc        .emacs       .gimp-2.6  .hplip           .macromedia  .recently-used.xbel  .xim.template  Documents          Templates
.cache         .fontconfig  .gnome2    .icedteaplugin   .mozilla     .scim                .xine          Downloads          Videos
linux-x4ab:/mnt/other_home # 


  1. Is there any limitations of using the same user (and UID) in two OS (12.1 and 12.3) co hosted under a single system ?
  2. While I can’t see anything under the “jrahman” directory of the cloned partition, but how I could see the target partition (/dev/sdb3) at HDD1 from HDD2 (see below):

linux-x4ab:/ # mount /dev/sdb3 /mnt/other_home/
linux-x4ab:/ # cd /mnt/other_home/
linux-x4ab:/mnt/other_home # ls
jrahman  lost+found  rokeya
linux-x4ab:/mnt/other_home # cd jrahman
linux-x4ab:/mnt/other_home/jrahman # ls
.Skype          .emacs           .hplip          .mozilla         .rcc               .zenmap                    Public             logs
.VirtualBox     .esd_auth        .hugin          .mplayer         .recently-used     .zoiper                    Quran              neozipper
.Xauthority     .filezilla       .icedtea        .mysql_history   .remmina           001.kinofx.dv              Templates          netbeans-7.2.1
.adobe          .fontconfig      .icedteaplugin  .nbi             .sane              002.kinofx.dv              Vacation_2011      openerp
.android        .fonts           .inputrc        .nbprofiler      .scim              003.kinofx.dv              Videos             pgadmin.log
.anthy          .fonts.conf      .java           .netbeans        .skel              Android                    VirtualBox VMs     public_html
.audacity-data  .gconf           .javafx         .netbeans-derby  .spumux            AshaBosle                  Will.pdf           recording.wav
.bash_history   .gconfd          .kde4           .netx            .ssh               Carleton.jpeg              alien              recording2.wav
.bashrc         .gimp-2.6        .kiax           .nx              .teamviewer        Desktop                    avro               rpmbuild
.blender        .gnome2          .kino-history   .ooo3            .thumbnails        Documents                  bin                sandbox
.cache          .gnome2_private  .kinorc         .openerprc       .viminfo           Downloads                  capture001.dv      scim-avro-0.0.2-2.i386.rpm
.config         .gnucash         .lesshst        .pgadmin3        .vimrc             Enam_email_questions.jpeg  capture002.dv      sshFileTransfertest
.cups           .gnupg           .libreoffice    .pgpass          .xdg_menu_cache    GrendalScan                dwhelper 
.dbus           .google          .linphonerc     .pki             .xim.template      HemantaMukherjee           eviware            test.txt
.devede         .googleearth     .loadui         .profile         .xine              Introduction.odt           glassfish-  weka-3-4-18
.dia            .gstreamer-0.10  .local          .ptbt0           .xinitrc.template  JavaFX                     grinder-3.4
.directory      .gtk-bookmarks   .m2             .pulse           .xsession-errors   Music                zoiper
.dmrc           .gtkrc-2.0-kde4  .macromedia     .pulse-cookie    .y2log             OiGeli.txt                 kdenlive
.dvdcss         .gvfs            .marble         .qt              .y2usersettings    Pictures                   kiax
linux-x4ab:/mnt/other_home/jrahman # 

Please help me to understand and resolve this issue.


No limitation but possible problems the desktop and other configuration files may not work right or get changed between two different versions of the software. so it can break stuff. Best to have 2 different users.

what does your /etc/fstab look like??

I’m confused about what exactly you have done. You can use the chown command to change ownership if that is the real problem.

Here is my /etc/fstab (@ HDD2 running 12.3):

/dev/disk/by-id/ata-WDC_WD5000AAKS-75YGA0_WD-WCAS82871073-part1 swap                 swap       defaults              0 0
/dev/disk/by-id/ata-WDC_WD10EZRX-00A8LB0_WD-WMC1U7968466-part1 /                    ext4       acl,user_xattr        1 1
/dev/disk/by-id/ata-WDC_WD10EZRX-00A8LB0_WD-WMC1U7968466-part2 /home                ext4       acl,user_xattr        1 2
proc                 /proc                proc       defaults              0 0
sysfs                /sys                 sysfs      noauto                0 0
debugfs              /sys/kernel/debug    debugfs    noauto                0 0
usbfs                /proc/bus/usb        usbfs      noauto                0 0
devpts               /dev/pts             devpts     mode=0620,gid=5       0 0

I am repeating my problem again (hope I could explain properly):
Currently, I am using 12.3 without any issue as user jrahman (UID=1000). My only problem is, I don’t see the cloned home directory of user jrahman at HDD2, which was cloned from the older HDD1 running 12.1

I see two drives with swap on one and root and home on the other.

how about seeing

fdisk -l
note that is a lower case L not a one

Hre is the information from*** fdisk -l***:

linux-x4ab:~ # fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sda: 1000.2 GB, 1000204886016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121601 cylinders, total 1953525168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 4096 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00094156

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *        2048    41945087    20971520   83  Linux
/dev/sda2        41945088   675307519   316681216   83  Linux
/dev/sda4       675307520  1200650239   262671360   83  Linux

Disk /dev/sdb: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xf8000000

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1            2048    10489855     5243904   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sdb2   *    10489856    52436991    20973568   83  Linux
/dev/sdb3        52436992   576718265   262140637   83  Linux

Can you define what the partitions are? It looks like sda is the new drive but it has no swap so I suspect the data you want is on sdb3.

also not sure why you are cloning things when you can just copy the data.

Do you know why the new drive has no swap on it. I assume you plan to remove the second drive or reuse it some how later. so yous system will need a swap.

Also since there are 3 partitions on sd was one supposed to be swap or is it some other use?

Current partitions are (in both Older and newer HDD) as below.

**sdb = HDD1 (old and retiring HDD with 12.1)**
sdb1 = swap (5GB)
sdb2 = / (20 GB)
sbd3 = /home (250 GB)

**sda = HDD2 (new HDD with 12.3):**
sda1 = / (20 GB)
sda2 = /home (300 GB)
sda3 = (I don't know, why this was not created while installing 12.3)
sda4 = Ext4 (250 GB) <-- I made this partition partition, intending to clone the sdb3 (/home of HDD1, because, HDD is retiring soon) 
Unpartitioned space left = 360 GB

Yes, sda is the new drive.
It doesn’t have any swap yet.
I thought, cloning is better than copy. That is why, I ran dd to clone /home (sdb3) of older drive to sda4, but when mounted, I don’t see /home of user jarhman, but I could see other user’s data

I don’t know why swap partition was not created on the new HDD2 (sda). I choose manual partition while installing 12.3 and allocated 5 GB, but now I don’t see
Yes, eventually, the old HDD1 (sdb) is retiring and I’ll remove it, once I could successfully clone /home partition somewhere in the new drive

Can I manually create a swap partition now out of “unpartitioned” space in sda (new drive) ?

Ok looks like you may have created it but did not specify it to be formatted as swap. Probably the first partition. You should be able to correct that in Yast.

maybe run fsck on sdb3 to see if you have a corrupt file system.

dd is very powerful and gives no warnings if you try something that may damage stuff. So you have to do it exactly right or you can lose data and kill systems.

So if you mount sdb3 you can not see the data you need. You may have killed it using dd.