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How To Fix Busybox Initramfs Error On Ubuntu

A Step-by-Step Guide to Solve Busybox Initramfs error on Ubuntu and its Derivatives such as ElementaryOS, Linux Mint and Pop!_OS.

By sk
Published: Updated: 619.7K views

This brief guide explains how to fix Busybox Initramfs error on Ubuntu Linux. I am using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS as my daily driver on my Dell Inspiron laptop. Today I turned it ON and the boot process dropped me to the BusyBox shell and I ended up at the initramfs prompt.

As far as I can remember, I did nothing wrong. I didn't forcibly power off the system. It was working just fine yesterday! However, today when I powered it on, I encountered an unexpected issue during the boot process.

Instead of loading normally, I found myself redirected to the BusyBox shell and eventually reached the initramfs prompt.

BusyBox v1.30.1 (Ubuntu 1:1.30.1-4ubuntu6.1) built-in shell (ash) 
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.


I can't get past this screen. Also it doesn't show what exactly the problem is. All I see is just a blank busybox shell.

I wasn't sure about what to do at this point. So I simply entered the exit command to see what happens next.

And then I saw the actual error:

(initramfs) exit
/dev/sda1 contains a file system with errors, check forced.
Inode 4326476 extent tree (at level 1) could be narrower, IGNORED.
/dev/sda1: Inode 4326843 extent tree (at level 1) could be narrower, IGNORED.
/dev/sda1: Inode 4327012 extent tree (at level 1) could be narrower, IGNORED.
/dev/sda1: Inode 4329004 extent tree (at level 1) could be narrower, IGNORED.
/dev/sda1: Inodes that were part of a corrupted orphan linked list found.

        (i.e., without -a or -p options) 
fsck exited with status code 4. 
The root filesystem on /dev/sda1 requires a manual fsck. 

BusyBox v1.30.1 (Ubuntu 1:1.30.1-4ubuntu6.1) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

Busybox Initramfs Error On Ubuntu
Busybox Initramfs Error On Ubuntu

As you can see in the above output, the /dev/sda1 partition is corrupted. The file system in this partition has some errors.

If you ever encountered with this type of problem, you need to check and repair the problematic Linux filesystems with fsck command.

Please note that sometimes you don't see any errors after typing the exit command. In that case, try to run fsck on all filesystems.

What are Busybox and Initramfs?

For those wondering, BusyBox is software suite that provides many common UNIX utilities into a single small executable. It provides replacements for most of the utilities you usually find in GNU fileutils, shellutils, etc.

Initramfs is an initial ram file system based on tmpfs. It contains the tools and scripts required to mount the file systems before the init binary on the real root file system is called.

Fix Busybox Initramfs Error on Ubuntu Linux

1. To solve initramfs error on Ubuntu Linux, you need to repair the filesystem in the corrupted partition using fsck command like below:

(initramfs) fsck /dev/sda1 -y

Replace /dev/sda1 with your partition name. In your system, it could be /dev/sdb1, /dev/sdc1 etc. You can use cat /proc/partitions or blkid or lsblk commands to get your Linux partition details in Busybox. Refer this guide to list disk partitions in Linux. Don't forget to pass the -y flag. Otherwise, you should manually type -y and hit ENTER each time to fix an error.

2. Now the fsck command will start to fix all bad blocks automatically in the filesystem.

After a couple minutes, you will see an output like below:

/dev/sda1: ***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****
/dev/sda1: 497733/30531584 files (1.5% non-contiguous), ........

3. Next, type reboot and hit ENTER to restart your system!

(initramfs) reboot
Fix Busybox Initramfs Error On Ubuntu Linux
Fix Busybox Initramfs Error On Ubuntu Linux

If the reboot command doesn't work, type exit and hit ENTER.

Cross your fingers and wait for the system to reboot! If all goes well, your system will boot normally without any problem.

These steps helped me and many others (see the comment section below) to solve Busybox Initramfs error on Ubuntu Linux operating system. If you are stuck in initramfs prompt, this guide will definitely help to fix initramfs error in Ubuntu.

This isn't exclusively for Ubuntu OS. The initramfs error can occur on Debian, and other Ubuntu derivatives such as Pop OS, Linux mint etc. In order to fix initramfs error in Debian-based systems, simply follow the aforementioned steps.

Heads Up: If you keep getting this error often, probably your hard disk is getting weaker. In that case, it is recommended to backup the data and replace the hard disk as soon as possible.

What if I can't Fix it from Busybox Shell? Try Rescue Mode

One of the user has commented that he/she can't type anything in the initramfs prompt. In that case, please boot into the rescue mode and try to repair the filesystem. The following guide explains how to boot in to rescue mode in Ubuntu.

How To Boot Into Rescue Mode Or Emergency Mode In Ubuntu

If your Ubuntu system is crashed due to power failure or network connectivity issue in the middle of the upgrade process, you might end up with broken Ubuntu. In that case, you can easily fix broken Ubuntu without reinstalling it as described in the following guide.

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Featured image by ErfourisStudio from Pixabay.

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Geever October 12, 2022 - 12:21 pm

It’s a worthy solution. Initarms error solved. Thank you very much.

Rohan January 7, 2023 - 11:04 am

Thanks buddy it was really helpful ?

Sai March 17, 2023 - 4:16 pm

Hi, I tried your resolution, its working for a while, but after some time when I do restart again the same issue is coming & also while booting it is reading all files, its taking more than 30 mins. pls help me

sk March 18, 2023 - 10:42 am

If the same issue is coming up often, the disk is probably getting weak. You must check your hdd/sdd health and replace it with a new one.

Nagaraju UH March 24, 2023 - 1:08 pm

Thanks buddy it was really helpful ? great…..

Jonas April 6, 2023 - 5:21 am

Thank you! It worked with some minimal changes, except “reboot”. But “exit” worked fine and Ubuntu 20.04 now works! Greetings from Lithuania!

Suksmadana April 16, 2023 - 4:04 am

The instruction works for me! Thanks bro

Ynadjean May 19, 2023 - 8:46 pm

Thank you so much, I thought I would never sort the problem out. Your tutorial worked perfectly.

sk May 20, 2023 - 3:11 pm

Glad it worked. Happy to help.

Jos May 27, 2023 - 3:55 pm

My problem was on sda2,
I used:
1. fsck/dev/sda2 -y
2. reboot -f
That was enough for me, thank you anyway

Carlos May 30, 2023 - 12:55 am

It saved my day! Thank you so much for sharing!

WJ September 23, 2023 - 9:16 pm

How long is it supposed to take? It’s been 45 minutes since I ran the exit command and it’s still booting

sk September 25, 2023 - 5:09 pm

It should fix the issue and boot the system immediately. If booting process takes 45 minutes, it is not normal. In you case, the problem might be something else.

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