Some life-saving Ubuntu tips

December 2, 2013

  • In case you manage to break your installation so badly that it won’t move much past the bootloader (say, when the contents of  /etc/init/ are read .. runlevel 2?), you may want to modify the boot command line in order to gain shell access (choose it and press e), by appending init=/bin/bash at the end of the line starting with ‘linux’.
  • Your HD might be mounted in read-only mode at this stage, so you might want to remount it in read-write mode, like so: first note down the device name (e.g. /dev/sda3 ), and then call mount with the appropriate remount options: mount -o remount,rw /dev/sda3 .
  • You might need to know a couple of vi commands, in order to edit the relevant configuration files (pray that you know what you’re doing). For example, i enters ‘insertion’ mode, x deletes a character, ESC returns vi in command mode at which point you can either close without saving with :q! or after saving with :wq
  • Ubuntu 12 waits until the network interfaces listed in /etc/network/interfaces are brought up (see man ifup). One can override this setting by replacing start on (filesystem and static-network-up) or failsafe-boot with: start on (filesystem) or failsafe-boot in /etc/init/rc-sysinit.conf .
  • In general, having a proven working operating system on another partition/neighboring PC helps a lot. Happy sysadministration!

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