What would cause a Linux server, in this case a Citrix XenServer host, to return "syntax error near unexpected token" for almost every command?

So far I have tried a few key OS commands but to no avail. TOP returns "syntax error near unexpected token" whereas FREE returns "cannot execute binary file".

I have also run some XenServer-related commands and snapshots won't run due to "the VDI is not available".

Would a reboot fix this problem?

# pvscan                                            ùuqnð73qO@ä½Ó9­*îû¯ì9"Qy20¨
ËÝKú }©ûácan: line 10: syntax error near unexpected token `oýêvÛÃNÎE­KQS0ØÝ
ø~¹`Üpn©m~Ve         |º<·%®Úí:Sd
            /jmTdtÐni-`:ÆÚ ¬£5ÎajSØ
/sbin/pvscan: line 10: `ËÝKú }©ûá
ø~¹`Üpn©m~Ve                                 |º<·%®Úí:Sd
            /jmTdtÐni-`:ÆÚ ¬£5ÎajSØ
                                          [í¬q°ãQ½XÍ3"½Þ±3ÖÀÎÑ[(3®9b½H)«ÚD '
  • Did you try a command built in in your shell? Do you have this problem from console too? If you specify a full path in the command invocation does it happens too? It seems that there is some function or script launched and non correctly formatted a ',",` ` space missed before some [,],(,... maybe a variable misspelled... but it can be a lot of other things.
    – Hastur
    Mar 21, 2015 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


Turns out a corruption had occurred on a hardware-level. Upon rebooting the XenServer host, not only would it not boot but all VMs on the local drives were unreadable.

Due to a major hardware failure, I had to restore the entire server on to new hardware to resolve the problem, taking a total of 48 hours to complete.

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