I found out (sort of) what the problem was and found a fix.
Apparantly there is something wrong with e2fsprogs 1.27, since it was unable to
the problem I had in the filesystem (just kept repairing the same thing again
I took the disk and attached it to a x86 PC, and ran fsck.ext3 there (an older
It found exactly the same errors as the MIPS system, but actually fixed them so
subsequent runs with "-f" reported no errors. I then put the disk back on the
system - voila, no more filesystem problems. Then did another unclean shutdown,
and the same problem reappeared, and once again fsck (on MIPS) was unable to fix
Then I downloaded e2fsprogs-1.32-6.mipsel.rpm from redhat 9, and installed that
MIPS system. And that removed the problem for good.
So the conclusion must be: The e2fsprogs-1.27 package which is part of the MIPS
RedHat distribution (CDROM and FTP) is broken. Don't leave home without a newer
e2fsprogs RPM just in case!
Thanks to everybody who replied!