cvs commit: hints mtab.txt

timothy at timothy at
Mon Jul 29 16:59:23 PDT 2002

timothy     02/07/29 16:59:23

  Added:       .        mtab.txt
  Initial commit.
  Revision  Changes    Path
  1.1                  hints/mtab.txt
  Index: mtab.txt
  TITLE:		mtab
  AUTHOR:		Oliver Brakmann <obrakmann at>
  	A default LFS install sets up mtab as a symlink to /proc/mounnts,
  	which breaks (u)mount's behaviour. This hints tells you how to
  	solve this problem elegantly.
  	If /etc/mtab is a link to /proc/mounts, the following issues with
  the mount/umount programs show up:
  	- the fstab user option doesn't work
  	- loop devices aren't freed properly when umounting
  	- there was some talk about a wrong root device listed in /etc/mtab,
  	  though I never noticed that. Maybe someone would like to shed
  	  some light on this for me.
  The reasons one might want to have /etc/mtab as a link to /proc/mounts are
  the following:
  	- if, for some reason, the system should crash and you have to do
  	  a hard reboot, /etc/mtab contains inconsistent data upon the
  	  the next boot.
  	- you can mount your root partition read-only.
  However, those two points can be dealt with without the need for the symlink.
  The goal is to have a read-only root partition and an mtab file that isn't
  a symlink to somewhere. To achieve this, do the following steps:
  	1. switch to single-user mode
  		$ telinit 1
  	2. re-mount / read-write
  		$ mount / -o remount,rw
  	3. rebuild glibc with the following patch applied:
  	   (or just do the change by hand, which is probably faster *g*)
  --- glibc-2.2.5/sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux/paths.h.orig    Sun Jul  7 12:22:31 2002
  +++ glibc-2.2.5/sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux/paths.h Sun Jul  7 12:22:53 2002
  @@ -51,7 +51,7 @@
  #define        _PATH_MAN       "/usr/share/man"
  #define        _PATH_MEM       "/dev/mem"
  #define        _PATH_MNTTAB    "/etc/fstab"
  -#define        _PATH_MOUNTED   "/etc/mtab"
  +#define        _PATH_MOUNTED   "/var/lib/misc/mtab"
  #define        _PATH_NOLOGIN   "/etc/nologin"
  #define        _PATH_PRESERVE  "/var/lib"
  #define        _PATH_RWHODIR   "/var/spool/rwho"
  	Look up the installation instructions for glibc in the LFS Book.
  	This patch makes freshly compiled programs look for the mtab file
  	in /var/lib/misc/mtab.
  	4. now umount /var
  		$ umount /var
  	5. create /var/lib/misc/mtab. This file should contain only
  	   one line that lists your root partition mounted read-only.
  	   On my system, using devfs, it looked like this:
  		$ mkdir -p /var/lib/misc
  		$ echo "/dev/discs/disc0/part2 / ext3 ro 0 0" > /var/lib/misc/mtab
  		$ chown root:root /var/lib/misc/mtab
  		$ chmod 644 /var/lib/misc/mtab
  	   Substitute your root device and file system according to your setup.
  	6. to prevent scripts and broken code from failing, create
  	   /etc/mtab as a link to /var/lib/misc/mtab
  		$ ln -sf ../var/lib/misc/mtab /etc/mtab
  	   Be careful: from this point on, you lose all information about the
  	   currently mounted partitions! If you have anything mounted that is
  	   not mounted at boot-time (ie. by the /etc/rc.d/init.d/mountfs
  	   script), umount it _before_ this step!
  	7. at this point you can mount /var again
  		$ mount -n /var
  	8. create an empty /var/lib/misc/mtab
  		$ touch /var/lib/misc/mtab
  		$ chown root:root /var/lib/misc/mtab
  		$ chmod 644 /var/lib/misc/mtab
  	9. now you have to modify your init scripts so that they basically
  	   do this:
  		1. fsck
  		2. mount -n /var	# so that /var/lib/misc/mtab shows up
  		3. > /var/lib/misc/mtab # clear /var/lib/misc/mtab
  		4. mount -f /		# update mtab with the already
  		5. mount -f /var	# mounted partitions.
  		6. mount -a		# mount all remaining partitions
  	When you're done, it should look like this:
  # Begin $rc_base/init.d/mountfs - File System Mount Script
  # Based on mountfs script from LFS-3.1 and earlier.
  # Rewritten by Gerard Beekmans  - gerard at
  source /etc/sysconfig/rc
  source $rc_functions
  case "$1" in
                  mount -n /var
                  echo "Clearing /var/lib/misc/mtab..."
                  > /var/lib/misc/mtab
                  mount -f /
                  mount -f /var
                  # The following mount command will mount all file systems. If
                  # you have other (network based) file system that should not
                  # be or cannot be mounted at this time, add them to the NO_FS
                  # variable below. All file systems that are added to the
  		# variable in the form of no<filesystem> will be skipped.
                  echo "Mounting remaining file systems..."
                  mount -a -t $NO_FS
  [...remainder of the script omitted...]
  	10. modify your /etc/fstab so that /var doesn't get mounted by
  	    mount -a:
  		/dev/discs/disc0/part7  /var  xfs  defaults,noauto  0 0
  	    The important part here is the 'noauto' keyword.
  	    This is, again, what it looks like on my system. Change that
  	    line so that it fits your system.
  	11. rebuild util-linux so that mount, umount and friends are
  	    aware of mtab's new location. There are no patches required,
  	    just look up the instructions in the LFS Book.
  	12. remount / read-only now, since we're not changing any more files.
  		$ mount -n / -o remount,ro
  	13. if you haven't umounted any other parititions during the process,
  	    all those listed in /etc/fstab should still be mounted.
  	    Your system doesn't know that anymore, so we have to tell it
  	    about that:
  		$ mount -f /
  		$ mount -f /var
  		$ mount -af
  	Finally done! You can telinit back to your favourite run-level now.
  OK, as a final note: keep in mind that I take no responsibility whatsoever for
  any damage done to your computer. Be careful doing this, you might badly screw
  your system. This hint has 13 steps for a reason!
  Credits are due to Seth W. Klein for teaching me through the process
  in the first place.
  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions regarding this hint, write
  to me at <obrakmann at> or to the blfs-support mailing list.
  I hope this helps some people out there.
  Oliver Brakmann
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