Qubes stopped booting


I’ve been using Qubes for about two years on my Lenovo laptop. All was going fine, until today; after I switched off my computer and restarted it, Qubes will no longer boot. The first time I tried to start today, I was asked for my hard drive encryption password, then got a black screen, then was redirected to the bios startup screen. I tried several times since, and now I don’t even get the Qubes hard drive encryption password screen – it goes into a black screen straight away, and then back to my BIOS startup screen.

I did a smart short test with the Lenovo diagnosis tools and the test fails (“Problems have been identified on one or more of your storage devices”). The tool suggests to use the recover bad sectors tool, but that tool doesn’t identify any problems.

Is my hard drive fried? Is there a way to recover my data or do I need to buy a new hard drive and recover from my latest backup?

Thank you very much!

While I never had such an issue with Qubes, I would guess it’s a GRUB issue. Therefore, I would use a live USB of your choosing, mount the LUKS encrypted drive, chroot to the environment and repair GRUB.

UPDATE: You should ask yourself → How should the diag tool work on a still encrypted LUKS container? :wink:

Thank you! Do you happen to have suggestions as to how I can go about these very steps you suggest? Sorry I’m not exactly a power user!

The first thing I would do is secure my data. Dont do anything more on
that disk until you have. The fact you talk about “my latest backup” is
a good sign.
If you have good backups and nothing to lose, you could try to recover
that disk. But what would be the point? You have a disk that looks as if
it is starting to fail, and you would constantly be waiting for the next
failure. I would buy a replacement and use the backups.

If this isn’t an option for any reason, then you could try to recover
/boot, grub, or whatever part of the Qubes boot mechanism is fried. You
might be able to squeeze some more use out of that disk, but it is a
risky venture. If you have to do this and need help with the details,
don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you. That’s very helpful. Is there a way to backup my Qubes given that I can’t even access the OS?

You can use “dd” to copy any block device (dd (Unix) - Wikipedia).

Well, I’m sorry if I’m overstepping my boundaries with this comments, but usually Qubes OS is referred to as operating system for “experts”. If you ask me, it has its reason and I specifically call it complexity as one must understand usually the concepts and philosophies behind a couple of Linux distributions as Qubes is some kind of meta OS.

Therefore, if I get asked where to start with Linux, I would only recommend Qubes to users who have already some experience. First and foremost because in my humble opinion, without it one cannot cope with the complexity and its risks. Complexity is the antidote to security including information security and thus privacy.

Not understanding the complexity of your own system might lead to a perception of safety and security while in fact this false conclusion might sole be based on obscurity.

Finally, to gain Linux experience I can highly recommend starting to use Gentoo. I’ve never ever learned so much about the inner workings of operating systems as when I started to build my custom systems with Gentoo.

Good sources to start are:

I tell you this, because all the steps described are part of the installation procedure! Besides the fact that one obviously does not repair but install the boot loader. :wink:

That said:

mount LUKS drive → dm-crypt - Gentoo Wiki

chroot → Gentoo Linux amd64 Handbook: Installing Gentoo - Gentoo Wiki

GRUB troubleshooting → GRUB2/Troubleshooting - Gentoo Wiki

I hope this helps… cheers!

Thank you voidstar. The links are very useful.

Ur welcome :slight_smile: