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rm cannot remove read-only file system – Quick fix

by | Dec 4, 2020

Are you looking for a solution to the error ‘rm cannot remove read-only file system’? We can help you with it.

Here at Bobcares, we have seen several such problems when removing a file in Linux as part of our Server Management Services for web hosts and online service providers.

Today we’ll take a look at the fix for this error.


How we resolve the error ‘rm cannot remove read-only file system’

Recently, one of our customers received the below error while removing the backup folder.

rm: cannot remove `X’: Read-only file system

This is what the customer gets when he runs mount.

/dev/sdb1 on /media/usbdisk type ext3 (rw)

Also, we found that ls -la /media/usbdisk gives the following.

[root@localhost]# ls -la /media/usbdisk
total 36
drwxr-xr-x 5 root root 4096 Mar 31 2010 .
drwxrwxrwx 9 root root 4096 Dec 15 2009 ..
drwxrwxrwx 39 501 501 4096 Aug 19 09:04 development-backup
drwx—— 2 root root 16384 Mar 30 2010 lost+found
drwxr-xr-x 8 root 501 4096 Aug 19 00:00 officeshare-backup

Here the error message clearly says that the filesystem on which omitted is located is read-only. We cannot do anything to modify that filesystem, including removing files.

Let’s see what our Support Engineers suggest to resolve this problem.

First, we check the mount point of the filesystem by running df X. It would be probably /media/usbdisk.

Then we run the below command to remount the filesystem as read-write.

mount -o remount,rw /mount/point

This fixed the problem.

However, if you receive any error for the above command then in some way or someone is attacking your filesystem . You have to umount that partition and perform fsck for that partition.

umount /media/usbdisk
fsck /dev/sdb1

However, we suggest to find out why those files were set to read-only. This might indicate that you shouldn’t delete them.

Run the below command to see what options were specified when mounting that filesystem.

mount | grep /media/usbdisk

For an ext2/ext3/ext4 filesystem, if the options did not include ro (read-only) but include errors=remount-ro, then it means the filesystem was damaged and was automatically remounted as read-only to limit the damage. You will find more information in the kernel logs.

Check /var/log/messages and /var/log/syslog for mount events or possible filesystem corruption.

[Need any further assistance with Linux related errors? – We are here to help you.]



In today’s writeup, we saw how our Support Engineers remove files from the read-only file system and resolve the ‘rm cannot remove the read-only file system’ error message.


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