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Bizarre fdisk/mke2fs behaviour

This isn't specifically an Alpha problem, sorry, but I'm not actually on any other debian lists (I did find the same question on linux.debian.user or suchlike, but it was unanswered). I'm curious, I have a system which I _can't_ reboot for a few weeks (hey, my number crunching jobs are _big_). However, I've just tried to repartition one of my hard disks.

Fdisk blurts
Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered!

Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Re-read table failed with error 16: Device or resource busy.
Reboot your system to ensure the partition table is updated.

and sure enough, /proc/partitions tells me about how things _used to be_. How broken is this? It surely can't assume that partitions never change, else how does it deal with things like hot-swappable drives? or magneto-optical removable media etc?

What can I do?
(and yes, I even have time to hack around in the kernel while I wait for my job to complete...

Yours curiously

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