How to Fix: "Failed to open serialization file readonly file system"

December 1, 2019 244 views
Ubuntu 18.04

I performed apt update +upgrade and rebooted the machine when prompted to do so.
Now my droplet fails to boot and gives a message of “Failed to open serialization file readonly file system” Is there any guidance on how to resolve this issue?

1 comment
6 Answers

Ok so after running up a new droplet with my week old backup and updating to the point that it broke as described. I identified that it was the snapd package (snapd/bionic-updates 2.42.1+18.04 amd64 [upgradable from: 2.40+18.04]) that caused the break.

I then booted via the recovery console and removed the snapd package. I then shutdown and switched back to booting via the standard method and the test system is now working as expected.

I am now going to fully update the test system and reboot.

If this works I will replicate this to my live system.

Edit: This has worked and I have replicated to live system and all is working. The ‘snapd’ package was the issue for me, once removed all was good.

I am having the exact same issue after performing an update and upgrade. Attempting to boot the droplet using a recovery shell.

Edit: If i boot into recovery then, reboot and select boot from harddisk the droplet boots. Exact replication of above behaviour.

OS is Ubuntu 18.04.3

Just wanted to chime in to say that I had the exact same issue right now. The recovery-reboot method worked for me as well. I’ve also created a ticket.

@ghostseven @alexanderlndbrg Did you get any resolution from DigitalOcean’s support staff?

In my case,
Once in a day someone responds, “Hey we checked your console. Everything is fine!”

My response of “That’s because it is booted in recovery mode. It does not work in normal mode” falls on deaf ears…

I have also posted to serverfault without any response

DO have not been overly helpful to be fair. I am however working on the problem and have made some progress. I had a backup from a week ago that I have restored to a new droplet. I have been working through the updates and have identified (for me at least) which update has caused this issue.

I updated the snapd package (snapd/bionic-updates 2.42.1+18.04 amd64 [upgradable from: 2.40+18.04]) and it replicated the fault. I am just in the process of booting the test droplet to remove this package and see what occurs. Hold this space and I will report back :)

@ghostseven Thanks a lot! Can you also file a report at

  • Did the fix work for you? Just interested to see if this does resolve it for other people. Obviously not ideal if you need that package.

    • Downgrading snapd via

       sudo apt-get install snapd=2.32.5+18.04

      Worked for me.

      Thanks for root causing the issue.

      • Ah brilliant, glad it works. I went back to DO with the findings and they confirmed the issue. They have opened a bug with Canonical for this snapd version.

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