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Amazon EC2 instance not starting

posted on January 29, 2011 / IN ec2 / Linux / 3 Comments

While working on a failed EC2 (ebs backed) instance recently, we were presented with an instance that would not start after reboot or stop/start.

tl;dr: Create a snapshot of the existing EBS vol; remount and edit etc/fstab; re-attach and start the instance.

The only symptom was in the console log:

$ ec2-get-console-output i-nnnnnnnn
init: console-setup main process (63) terminated with status 1
%Ginit: plymouth main process (45) killed by SEGV signal
init: plymouth-splash main process (194) terminated with status 2
cloud-init running: Sat, 29 Jan 2011 23:33:24 +0000. up 2.65 seconds
mountall: Disconnected from Plymouth

It turned out this instance was running as a t1.micro instance, which do not have instance storage on /dev/sdb like all other instance types.

The problem with this is the /etc/fstab entry contained and entry:

/dev/sdb /mnt auto defaults,comment=cloudconfig 0 0

The parameter “nobootwait” is missing!

This was causing the instance to hang on reboot. The solution to this problem is as follows:

Gather instance info for reference

$ ec2-describe-instances i-brokeninst

Create a snapshot of the existing volume attached to the broken instance

$ ec2-create-snapshot vol-brokenvol
$ ec2-create-volume --snapshot snap-fromcreateabove -z us-east-1d
VOLUME vol-newvolume 15 snap-fromcreateabove us-east-1d creating 2011-01-30T00:01:30+0000

Attach this new volume to a temporary host, and edit /etc/fstab from newvol removing the /dev/sdb entry

$ ec2-attach-volume vol-newvol -i i-tempinstance -d /dev/sdX #use a free /dev/sd letter

Note: You can remove the /dev/sdb entry, or use you should also be able to use an entry like:

/dev/sdb /mnt auto defaults,nobootwait 0 0

detach this new volume from the temporary host

$ ec2-detach-volume vol-newvol

detach the original volume from the failed host

$ ec2-detach-volume vol-oldvolume

Attach the newly edited volume to the failed host (use ec2-describe-instances to determine device location)

$ ec2-attach-volume vol-newvol -i i-brokeninstance -d /dev/sda1

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    • Andy
      Posted on February 17, 20122:08 am Reply

      Thank you! I have been tearing my hair out over this same problem for months – every time my instance was stopped for maintenance or after I created new images from the volume I would be unable to connect and the server would stop serving it’s web content.

      I followed these instructions, repaired the fstab and boom! Finally recovered my instance. Question is, will this happen again and if so, is there a permanent solution?

      Thanks again.


    • Avadhesh
      Posted on April 9, 20121:19 am Reply

      I have same problem,trying to launch instance from snapshot but it is not starting.

    • Steve S.
      Posted on June 15, 20126:37 am Reply

      Thanks! Saved me an untold amount of time banging my head against the wall.

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