A Few Cables Loose in the Black Box
I was having all kinds of horrible errors on booting my Linux box.
GRUB gave a ‘Geom Error’…
And before it even got that far on one attempt at a start up I got…
ata1.00: SRST failed (errno=-16)
Followed ultimately by
ata1.00: reset failed, giving up
And sometimes it got a bit further into the process and started talking about…
ata1.01: exception Emask 0x50 SAct 0x0 SErr...
udevd: timeout: killing '/sbin/blkid -o udev -p /dev/sda' 
and, well, it was all very scary.
Boot sector problems? GRUB configuration problems? No, sometimes the problems came before GRUB got a look-in. Hard drive on the way out? Quite possibly.
But I opened the case and pushed all the cables firmly into their sockets and now it all looks pretty good. This is exactly the level of hardware modification with which I am comfortable.
Hard drive is possibly still on the way out, but boot issue fixed at least.
Moral of the story: Don’t panic.