e2fsck message "inode is too big"

thorsten.henrici at gfd.de thorsten.henrici at gfd.de
Fri Jul 25 10:55:27 UTC 2008

Hallo List,
after rebooting one of our systems one of the ext3 filesystems, that was 
cleanly unmounted, fsck stopped the boot process due to critical errors in 
that filesystem.

Running fsck -y manually returned, that one of the i-nodes is "too big" an 
was truncated.
After this about three million i-nodes were orphaned an moved to 

# strings /sbin/e2fsck | grep -i 'too.*big'
@i %i is too big. 
@b #%B (%b) causes @d to be too big. 
@b #%B (%b) causes file to be too big. 
@b #%B (%b) causes symlink to be too big. 
@h %i has a tree depth (%N) which is too big
Ext2 file too big

shows the according output sting.

In the literature I found covering ext2/3 internals I didn't come accross 
anything, that suggets how an inode can become "too big". After all the 
inode-size is set, when the filesystem is created (usually to 128 byte, if 
I understand correctly).

I have two questions regarding this:

1. What can cause this error
2.  Is there any message logged to either syslogd or the kernel ring 
buffer, when this limit is reached, since we couldn't find any. At least 
this holds true for /var/log/messages.

Kernel version is  2.6.9- #1 SMP Wed May 2 14:59:56 PDT 
2007 i686 athlon i386 GNU/Linux

Thanks a lot for your help in this

Kind wishes

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