fsck.ext3 error Unable to boot ESX 4.1

About a week ago we had a major power outage at the office.  Everything came back up except one ESX 4.1 host.  When it booted up I received the error message:

fsck3.ext3: Unable to Resolve ‘UUID=[uuid number]’ [FAILED]
*** An error occurred during the file system check.
*** Dropping you to a shell; the system will reboot
*** when you leave the shell.

I immediately thought something physically was wrong with my OS drive on the Host.  I rebooted into an HP maintenance CD  (It’s a BL460c G7) and ran all the hard drive tests available. This gave me no result I knew my next course of action would be to call VM Support.  Before I could a colleague emailed me who was having the same issue on an IBM system.  The tech told him to do the following:

Log on to the file system by typing in the root password.

Remount the filesystem since it has the read-only flag:

mount -o remount,rw /
(remounts the root file system as read/write)

Navigate into the /etc/blkid and use your favorite text editor to open the blkid.tab file. Locate the UUID that’s mentioned and verify it is there.

nano /etc/blkid/blkid.tab
Next run blkid -c /dev/null (-c causes the blkid command to read from cache *but* the ‘/dev/null’ forces a clean cache rebuild)

Run mount -a (remounts all file systems listed in fstab)

Run df -h verify the partitions are there.

Reboot. shutdown -r 'now'

This will fix the problem you are having.  The VMware tech originally told my colleague to run blkid with out any paramaters and that worked for him.

Now the question becomes why did that UUID get blocked in the first place?  I’m not sure on the answer and am researching it.  If anyone has insight into why this happens please feel free to leave a comment in the section below or send me a message on twitter @JimPeluso.




4 thoughts on “fsck.ext3 error Unable to boot ESX 4.1

  1. Thank you for posting this. I rarely take the time to thank bloggers who share this kind of stuff, but having to use this info at 4am in the morning during a data centre move of a multi-billion dollar company (and this link being the nearly sole source of useful information, considering VMWare was still updating their KB article on this issue the same day) made me realize not only do you deserve the thanks, but that it might be time for me to start contributing to the body of information out there when I find useful bits of info like this too.

    1. Hey Scott,

      Thanks for the response. I appreciate it. I am glad you found the blog useful. It’s people like you and your comments that make the time invested in writing this blog worth it. 🙂



  2. Thx a lot for this blog,

    i have the same problem on an IBM Server.
    Fixing the problem your way made my day.


  3. Great post, life saver! Very little other information about this exact error elsewhere, thanks for posting, keep up the good work 🙂

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