I've always been curious of what would happen if a hard drive failed while the Linux kernel was running. Since the kernel image itself is loaded completely into RAM, I don't imagine there would be any kernel failures. Obviously any software that attempted to access the disk would fail.
Is there any chance that the system would continue running indefinitely? If not, what would cause it to panic (or at least become inoperable)?
Please consider each of the following scenarios:
- The kernel may or may not have the swapfile enabled.
- No attempts to load kernel modules are made after the failure.
- Does it make a difference if certain parts of the filesystem are on different disks?