Raising Skinny Elephants Is Utterly Boring

21st July 2008 - 2 minutes read time

This might sound odd, but this is a mnemonic that helps you remember a sequence of letters that you can enter when your Linux system is locked. This is a last ditch attempt to get things up and running again and should only be used if all else fails and the only other thing that you can do it pull the plug.

If you have also tried pressing Ctrl+Alt+backspace and this does nothing then you can try using the key sequence Raising Skinny Elephants Is Utterly Boring.

Hold down the left Alt key and the SysRq key (found on the print screen button) and press each letter in turn. Make sure that you give a little time between keystrokes.

  • r
  • s
  • e
  • i
  • u
  • b

Here is a description of what you are doing.

  • The r stands for put keyboard in raw mode.
  • The s for sync the disk.
  • The e for terminate all processes.
  • The i for kill all processes.
  • The u for remount all filesystems read only.
  • The b for reboot the system.

Also, if your filesystem is Ext3 or ReiserFS and on reboot it wants you to do a filesystem check, don't touch any key when it asks you to press "Y" and let it recover the journal automatically.

Also note that for this to work you need to have the SysRq key enabled in the Linux kernel, also called CONFIG_MAGIC_SYSRQ. You can check if it is enabled by typing:

ls /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq

If this prints out a line with that word then the key is enabled.

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