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    I'll get straight to the point.

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    Dan Griffiths
    Pop!_Planet Founder

Solved Installation failing due to busy /var/log mount?


New member
Jun 26, 2020
I'm trying to install pop on an external USB SSD attached to my Dell XPS 15. It's a test for a possible replacement of Ubuntu 20.04 currently installed on my main internal drive. I'm being cautious with a test because last year I audited a few distros and pop was the only one which failed to install, which didn't inspire confidence.

Anyway, I'm opting for the advanced install, with / (ext4) mounted to /dev/sda3, a boot fat32 partition at /dev/sda1, and no swap partition (I have 32GB of RAM and this is only a test installation so I can do without swap). The BIOS is set up for UEFI boot, with secure boot disabled.

The install fails with this error shown in installer.log:

[INFO distinst:crates/disks/src/config/disk_trait.rs:60] child_dev "/dev/sda4" has mount_opt None
[INFO distinst:crates/disks/src/config/disk.rs:305] unmount all partitions with a target on /dev/sda
[INFO distinst:crates/disks/src/config/disk.rs:325] marking /dev/sda3 to be unmounted, which is mounted at /var/log
[INFO distinst:crates/disks/src/config/disk.rs:325] marking /dev/sda3 to be unmounted, which is mounted at /var/crash
[INFO distinst:crates/disks/src/config/disk.rs:338] unmounting /var/log
[ERROR distinst:src/installer/steps/initialize.rs:113] unable to unmount partitions
[ERROR distinst:src/installer/state.rs:37] initializing error: "/var/log": Device or resource busy (os error 16)
[ERROR distinst:src/installer/mod.rs:298] errored while installing system: "/var/log": Device or resource busy (os error 16)
[INFO distinst:ffi/src/installer.rs:188] Install error: "/var/log": Device or resource busy (os error 16)
I don't quite understand why /var/log and /var/crash are both mountpoints for /dev/sda3 during the install - certainly nothing I've done so presumably it's an installer thing.


New member
Jun 26, 2020
I've fixed this but will leave it here in case anyone else hits a similar issue.

To diagnose I booted back into the installer and checked what it had mounted - I made a small error in my description above - the /var/log mount point was actually a different partition from the ones I had created for the test installation. It was an ext4 one labelled 'writable', on the usb ssd. It appears the installer had created this partition, mounted it under /var/log, and during the install was trying and failing to then unmount it. Weird behaviour.

I fixed this by re-booting the installer (which was on a different usb stick) without having the usb ssd plugged in (to stop the installer from doing its one weird mount trick). Once the installer was started, I plugged the ssd in and the install proceeded as planned.

Not sure whether or not the differences will be compelling enough to replace my main Ubuntu installation, but anyway I have Pop!_os available now to experiment with.
Last edited:

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