When you deleted /lib on Linux while still connected via ssh

Let’s first not talk about why this can happen, but deleting /lib, /usr/lib, or some other essential runtime files happens quite a lot (as you can see: here, here, here, and here). In this post, I will only discuss what happens when you delete /lib on Linux and how to recover from that.

The easy solution for everything is to replace the missing files, but this can be difficult if /lib is deleted because we won’t have ld-linux, which is needed to run any dynamic executable. When you deleted /lib, all non-static executable (such as ls, cat, etc, will output):

No such file or directory

You will also be unable to open any new connection using ssh, or open a new tmux window/pane if you are using tmux. So you can only rely on your current shell built in, and some static executables that you have on the system.

If you have a static busybox installed, then it can be your rescue. You can use wget from busybox to download libraries from a clean system. For your information: Debian has busybox installed by default, but the default is not the static version.

Minimal Debian install

If you are worried that this kind of problem might happen to you in the future: Install the static version of the busybox binary, and confirm that it is the correct version.

Installing static busybox
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