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unable to delete a mysterious file

gezi asked
I noticed in the qmail logs that qmail was unable to delete files in a directory

I looked and found this directory 14 listed as

[R /var/qmail/queue/remote2]# d
total 0
drwx------   3 qmails qmail  15 Jan 25 10:13 .
drwxr-x---  12 qmailq qmail 123 Jan 25 10:09 ..
?---------   ? ?      ?       ?            ? 14

Very strange file indeed. It's impossible to do anything with or to this file.
For example removing this directory results in

[R /var/qmail/queue/remote]# rmdir 14
rmdir: `14': Unknown error 990

What is that and how could I get rid of this directory? I handled the situation for qmail but I still would like to be able to remove that spurious directory.

Watch Question

Top Expert 2008
Unknown error 990" is a classic "wildcard" error message given by XFS.
You may want to unmount and then run xfs_repair(8)
Top Expert 2008


Hi Shakoush,
thanks for the answer, that is probably what will fix it. Now, as this is a life server out there on the internet, serving some people I don't want to risk to kill it with my ignorance in terms of linux administration.
1. how could I do the unmount, repair and mount without disturbing operation too much, or
2. is there something I could do so that during a reboot the file system is checked and repaired?

my mounted file systems are
/dev/hda1 on / type ext3 (rw)
none on /proc type proc (rw)
none on /sys type sysfs (rw)
none on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,gid=5,mode=620)
none on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw)
/dev/hda7 on /home type xfs (rw,usrquota)
/dev/hda5 on /usr type xfs (rw)
/dev/hda6 on /var type xfs (rw)
none on /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc type binfmt_misc (rw)

so that I should be able to unmount /var without also killing the OS, right? But I would still prefer to set the FS as dirty and then reboot and have it come up all nice and shiny.

Top Expert 2008
I would try to reboot and fsck that would be best I guess

shutdown -rF now

-r for reboot
-F for forcing fsck


very nice! - I did that and it ran through, but I still have that rogue directory, I can't remove.
hmmm - if I would not be worried that this one file is the indication of something else being wrong I would just leave it as it is - what do you think, could this be the tip of an ice berg?
don't play with qmail's queue at all while qmail is running.

dont play much with qmail's queue when it isnt running.

qmail does a whole set of very funning things in the queue to try to optimize for limitation in the ext2 file handling protocol.

visit qmail.jms1.net and check out some of the qmail maintenance scripts listed there.

there is one there called qfixq which will fix your queue if it is broken.

but take your time, and READ, READ, READ before you take any action, as you can hopelessly screw up your qmail queue.
Duncan RoeSoftware Developer
Please check the output on your system from "man -s 8 fsck.xfs". This is what I get:

       fsck.xfs - do nothing, successfully

       fsck.xfs [ ...]


fsck.xfs(8)                                           fsck.xfs(8)

       fsck.xfs  is called by the generic Linux fsck(8) program at startup to check and repair an XFS filesystem.  XFS is a journaling filesystem and performs recovery at mount(8) time if necessary, so
       fsck.xfs simply exits with a zero exit status.


       fsck(8), fstab(5), xfs(5).

Here's what I think you need to do:-

1. Read up on xfs_repair:

    man -s 8 xfs_repair

2. Schedule some down time, get into single-user mode (either by "telinit 1" or halt the system then append " 1" to the boot line), unmount the partition containing the qmail Q and run xfs_repair on it by hand.


Thank you both!
don't think that I'm going to risk to fix that problem at this time - it does not seem to cause any other problem. I had thought about re-imaging the server with a newer version of linux, so maybe I do this sooner than later and that will certainly handle the problem.


Thanks again!
The server is in a remote data center so I can't really go into single user mode and do the repair, but with your advise I could better ask the local tech what to do.

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