FreeBSD 8.4 Boot failure

Tyler Sweet tyler at
Wed Sep 25 05:24:02 UTC 2013

Hello all,

Not sure if this is the correct list. I've run into a problem with one
of my servers where it no longer boots. It uses GPT and ZFS for root.
Recently, I did an upgrade from 8.2 up to 8.4. That went fine, and I
rebooted a few times after that to finish installing updates. During
those reboots, I also updated ZFS to the most recent version to take
advantage of dedupe and the new compression algorithm. The server has
two zpools, zroot which has the system on it, and data, which has
everything else (except /usr/home, which is on zroot). I followed this
guide a long, long time ago:

While deleting several large files, the system stopped responding to
SSH/HTTP/everything except ping. Thinking it was just taking a long
time to finish, I let it sit for about a day. When it didn't recover,
I had to do a hard power-off, as it wasn't accepting key strokes at
the console.

When it boots back up, it gets past POST and then goes to a black
screen with just a spinner in the upper left-hand corner. No text, no
logo, nothing else. The spinner used to spin around a few times, now
it does nothing.

I've managed to get boot zpools loaded up in the fixit console, they
don't show any errors. I tried reinstalling the boot blocks from both
the fixit live filesystem and also mounting zroot and using the files
there in case they were different. Neither one seems to change
anything. I've let it sit at the (mostly) blank screen for two hours
with no change.

I'm at the end of my wits, and haven't been able to find any
information as to what could be causing this. There are no error
messages at the console, and the only output is that frozen spinner.
>From what I remember, I didn't change anything on the zroot zpool
during the upgrade, only the data zpool to enable the new compression
and dedupe on a couple file systems where they would be useful.

I've checked /boot/loader.conf and /etc/fstab, and neither one has
changed since it was last working. My only though is if the zroot
zpool was borked somehow, but it still loads up without any issue in
the fixit console (Though I had to use the -f flag on both zpools when
I first loaded them, as they were "still in use" from when the server
crashed). All the disks appear to be fine. The server still boots from
USB and CD without throwing any errors.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what the problem could be, or how I
could troubleshoot this Further?

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