How to enable AUTO fsck (ext3, ext4, reiserfs, LVM filesystems) checking on Linux boot through /etc/fstab

How to auto FSCK manual fsck screenshot

Are you an administrator of servers and it happens a server is DOWN.
You request the Data Center to reboot, however suddenly the server fails to boot properly and you have to request for IPKVM or some web java interface to directly access the server physical terminal …

This is a very normal admin scenario and many people who have worked in the field of remote system administrators (like me), should have experienced that bad times multiple times.

Sadly enough only a insignifant number of administrators try to do their best to reduce this down times to resolve client stuff downtime but prefer spending time playing the ztype! game or watching some porn website ;)

Anyways there are plenty of things like Server Auto Reboot on Crash with software Watchdog etc., that we as sysadmins can do to reduce server downtimes and most of the manual human interactions on server boot time.

In that manner of thougts a very common thing when setting up a new Linux server that many server admins forget or don’t know is to enable all the server partition filesystems to be auto fscked during server boot time.

By not enabling the auto filesystem check options in Linux the server filesystems did not automatically scan and fix hard drive partitions for fs innode inconsistencies.
Even though the filesystems are tuned to automatically get checked on every 38 system reboots, still if some kind of filesystem errors are found that require a manual confirmation the boot process is interrupted and the admin ends up with a server which is not reachable remotely via ssh !

For the remote system administrator, this times are a terrible times of waitings, prayers and hopes that the server hardware is fine ;) as well as being on hold to get a KVM to get into the server manually and enter the necessery input to fsck prompt.

Many of this bad times can be completely avoided with a very simple fix through /etc/fstab by enabling all server partitions containing any filesystem to be automatically checked and fixed in case if inconsistencies or errors are found by fsck.ext3, fsck.ext4, fsck.reiserfs etc. commands.

A very typical default /etc/fstab file you will find on many servers should look something like:

/dev/sda8 / ext3 errors=remount-ro 0 1
tmpfs /dev/shm tmpfs defaults 0 0
devpts /dev/pts devpts gid=5,mode=620 0 0
sysfs /sys sysfs defaults 0 0
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
/dev/sda1 /home ext3 defaults 0 0

Notice the line:
/dev/sda1 /home ext3 defaults 0 0

The first column in the example contains the device name, the second one its mount point, third its filesystem type, fourth the mount options, fifth (a number) dump options, and sixth (another number) filesystem check options. Let’s take a closer look at this stuff.

The ones which are interesting to enable auto fsck checking and error resolving is provided usually by the last sixth variable (filesystem check option) which in the above example equals 0 .

When the filesystem check option equals 0 this means the auto fsck and repair for the respective filesystem is disabled.
Some time in the past the dump backup option (5th option in the example) was also used but as far as I can understand today it’s not that important in modern GNU/Linux distributions.

Now having the above sample crontab in order to enable the fsck file checking on Linux boot for /dev/sda1 , we will need to modify the above line’s filesystem check option be 2, e.g. the line would afterwards look like:

/dev/sda1 /home ext3 defaults 0 2

Setting the 2 as an option for filesystem check is necessery for every filesystem which is not mounted as a root filesystem /

In above example /etc/fstab you already see that auto filesystem fsck is enabled for root partition:

/dev/sda8 / ext3 errors=remount-ro 0 1

(notice the 1 in the end of the line)

Finally a modified version of the default sample /etc/fstab which will check the extra /dev/sda1 /home partition would look like so:

/dev/sda8 / ext3 errors=remount-ro 0 1
tmpfs /dev/shm tmpfs defaults 0 0
devpts /dev/pts devpts gid=5,mode=620 0 0
sysfs /sys sysfs defaults 0 0
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
/dev/sda1 /home ext3 defaults 0 2

Making sure all Linux server partitions has the auto filesystem check option enabled is something absoultely necessery!
Enabling the auto fsck on servers always makes me sleep calmer ;)
Hope it helps your too. :)

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4 Responses to “How to enable AUTO fsck (ext3, ext4, reiserfs, LVM filesystems) checking on Linux boot through /etc/fstab”

  1. Digna says:

    Howdy! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Mason Otsman says:

    Would love to constantly get updated great web blog!

  3. Sophia Polowy says:

    is it really easy to learn

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