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I am running Xubuntu on a MacBook Pro with fluxbox as my window manager. Yesterday when I attempted to launch firefox I received a bus error and the application did not launch. I corrected the problem by removing and reinstalling firefox. Today the same problem is happening with emacs. I have not tried removing and reinstalling emacs so I am not sure if that will work but since the problem has occurred in more than one application now, I assume it points to a larger issue. I have done some research on bus errors but it isn't clear why this problem would manifest in different applications in this manner.

After the a failed launch the dmesg reports this, which seems relevant:

[10227.675775] ata3.01: BMDMA stat 0x5
[10227.675782] ata3.01: failed command: READ DMA
[10227.675796] ata3.01: cmd c8/00:08:f8:2e:9f/00:00:00:00:00/fa tag 0 dma 4096 in
[10227.675799]          res 51/40:00:fc:2e:9f/00:00:00:00:00/fa Emask 0x9 (media error)
[10227.675806] ata3.01: status: { DRDY ERR }
[10227.675811] ata3.01: error: { UNC }
[10227.712803] ata3.01: configured for UDMA/133
[10227.712830] ata3: EH complete
[10230.070892] ata3.01: exception Emask 0x0 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x0 action 0x0
[10230.070901] ata3.01: BMDMA stat 0x5
[10230.070908] ata3.01: failed command: READ DMA
[10230.070922] ata3.01: cmd c8/00:08:f8:2e:9f/00:00:00:00:00/fa tag 0 dma 4096 in
[10230.070925]          res 51/40:00:fc:2e:9f/00:00:00:00:00/fa Emask 0x9 (media error)
[10230.070932] ata3.01: status: { DRDY ERR }
[10230.070937] ata3.01: error: { UNC }
[10230.092783] ata3.01: configured for UDMA/133
[10230.092809] ata3: EH complete
[10232.466015] ata3.01: exception Emask 0x0 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x0 action 0x0
[10232.466025] ata3.01: BMDMA stat 0x5
[10232.466032] ata3.01: failed command: READ DMA
[10232.466046] ata3.01: cmd c8/00:08:f8:2e:9f/00:00:00:00:00/fa tag 0 dma 4096 in
[10232.466049]          res 51/40:00:fc:2e:9f/00:00:00:00:00/fa Emask 0x9 (media error)
[10232.466056] ata3.01: status: { DRDY ERR }  
[10232.466061] ata3.01: error: { UNC }
[10232.488693] ata3.01: configured for UDMA/133
[10232.488721] sd 2:0:1:0: [sda] Unhandled sense code
[10232.488726] sd 2:0:1:0: [sda] Result: hostbyte=DID_OK driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE
[10232.488734] sd 2:0:1:0: [sda] Sense Key : Medium Error [current] [descriptor]
[10232.488745] Descriptor sense data with sense descriptors (in hex):
[10232.488750]         72 03 11 04 00 00 00 0c 00 0a 80 00 00 00 00 00 
[10232.488773]         0a 9f 2e fc 
[10232.488783] sd 2:0:1:0: [sda] Add. Sense: Unrecovered read error - auto reallocate  failed
[10232.488794] sd 2:0:1:0: [sda] CDB: Read(10): 28 00 0a 9f 2e f8 00 00 08 00
[10232.488815] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 178204412
[10232.488852] ata3: EH complete

Any suggestions as to what might be at the root of the problem?

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Looks like your hard drive or controller is in bad shape. Could also be a more minor problem like the cable between the drive and MB being a bit loose (not sure there is a cable if you have a laptop though).

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@Matt thanks for the input. I was hoping it wasn't a hardware problem but... Oh well, what are you gonna do? –  KennyPeanuts Apr 17 '11 at 23:24
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To me the errors clearly indicate a medium (hard disk surface) problem. Your disk has (at least one) bad sector no. 178204412. Since it cannot be recovered automatically (read error) data has been lost. You may try to find out which data is affected but this may be very complicated. Try a full fsck on your filesystems and try to backup as much as you can.

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thanks for your input. Since posting this question the problem kept getting worse (more and more applications reporting a Bus Error) so I think you are correct. My solution was to just run Tinycore Linux off of a USB and forget about the hard-drive altogether –  KennyPeanuts May 17 '11 at 17:59
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