When I boot from GRUB, I get various error messages from GRUB, apparently at random : "invalid arch independent ELF magic" or "incompatible license" or "file not found". I can boot from the rescue DVD and then the main disk, /dev/sda, seems OK. I can fsck it (no error), I can mount, it can even use it as root (from the rescue DVD, boot with root=/dev/sda1). But the machine cannot reboot without the DVD rescue.

What I tried (without any success):

  • grub-install /dev/sda No error but the problem stays the same
  • Boot repair no error message but not better aftwerwards. You can check its report
  • removing the kernel and reinstalling it
  • removing GRUB, moving /boot/grub and reinstalling it

Debian stable "wheezy". I am not aware of any external recent event (no upgrade, no physical problem on the hardware). The PC has a few years, no UEFI, a regular Dell BIOS.

Versions of grub:

% dpkg -l 'grub*'
| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name                   Version          Architecture     Description
un  grub                   <none>                            (no description available)
ii  grub-common            1.99-27+deb7u1   i386             GRand Unified Bootloader (common files)
un  grub-coreboot          <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-doc               <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-efi               <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-efi-amd64         <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-efi-ia32          <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-emu               <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-ieee1275          <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-legacy            <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-legacy-doc        <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub-linuxbios         <none>                            (no description available)
ii  grub-pc                1.99-27+deb7u1   i386             GRand Unified Bootloader, version 2 (PC/BIOS versi
ii  grub-pc-bin            1.99-27+deb7u1   i386             GRand Unified Bootloader, version 2 (PC/BIOS binar
un  grub-yeeloong          <none>                            (no description available)
un  grub2                  <none>                            (no description available)
ii  grub2-common           1.99-27+deb7u1   i386             GRand Unified Bootloader (common files for version
  • Are you certain that these are from GRUB? Particularly incompatible license doesn't sound like GRUB to me. Exactly which version of GRUB is installed? (Post the output of dpkg -l 'grub*'.)
    – user
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:20
  • Certain. I cannot copy-and-paste easily but just after, I had "Entering rescue mode... grub rescue>" Also, see unix.stackexchange.com/questions/74087/…
    – bortzmeyer
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:24
  • That's one I haven't heard of before. You learn something new every day I guess. I take it you have reinstalled the GRUB packages as well as grub-install the bootloader? Since obviously if the files on disk got corrupted for whatever reason, grub-install won't help you. I had some really weird boot problems a while ago and one of the things I did which ultimately helped solve the problem was installing a kernel upgrade; I imagine the kernel files had become corrupted somehow, but it still mostly worked.
    – user
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:30
  • 1
    Yes, I aptitude remove grub* and then aptitude install them again before running grub-install.
    – bortzmeyer
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:32
  • OK, so that's not it then. Thanks for confirming. (Good question by the way.)
    – user
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


Maybe you are suffering from corruption at that particular block. Sounds unlikely, but have you tried reading the first few hundred kBs of that disk 4-5 times, and running checksums on the resulting file?

dd if=/dev/sdX | shasum -a 256 ?
  • 1
    Always the same value. Isn't it normal, since the readings after the first one will be from the kernel I/O cache?
    – bortzmeyer
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:26

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