Please describe the problem.

I'm getting fatal: unable to normalize object directory while issuing git annex copy from an annex in my laptop to a vanilla remote annex located in a USB disk. As far as I can tell there are no hardware problems with the disk or the laptop.

$ git annex copy --auto --to usbdrive .
copy vlc-record-2016-07-17-15h16m55s-hr-fernsehen-Die fantastische Reise der Vögel (3_6).ts (to usbdrive...) 
SHA256E-s1256869488--28edfd2c4eb08e6782c806a85db7bc10595c16df6f64d3d46ebc2802b3ba5038.ts
  1,256,869,488 100%   52.96MB/s    0:00:22 (xfr#1, to-chk=0/1)
(checksum...) fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects

  fd:24: hGetLine: end of file

SHA256E-s1256869488--28edfd2c4eb08e6782c806a85db7bc10595c16df6f64d3d46ebc2802b3ba5038.ts
  1,256,869,488 100%   56.08MB/s    0:00:21 (xfr#1, to-chk=0/1)
(checksum...) 
  fd:23: hFlush: resource vanished (Broken pipe)

  fd:23: hClose: resource vanished (Broken pipe)
ok
(recording state in git...)

But note that the command did not abort. After copying, fsck reports no error:

$ git annex fsck --from=usbdrive 'vlc-record-2016-07-17-15h16m55s-hr-fernsehen-Die fantastische Reise der Vögel (3_6).ts'
fsck vlc-record-2016-07-17-15h16m55s-hr-fernsehen-Die fantastische Reise der Vögel (3_6).ts (checksum...) ok
(recording state in git...)

I get the same errors with drop, which fails:

$ git annex drop --from usbdrive 'vlc-record-2016-07-17-15h16m55s-hr-fernsehen-Die fantastische Reise der Vögel (3_6).ts'
drop usbdrive vlc-record-2016-07-17-15h16m55s-hr-fernsehen-Die fantastische Reise der Vögel (3_6).ts fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects
fatal: unable to normalize object directory: /home/jr/Videos/ts/../../../../../run/media/jr/TOSHIBA/jr/Videos.git/objects

git-annex: fd:27: hGetLine: end of file
failed
git-annex: drop: 1 failed

But the same drop works if executed again:

$ git annex drop --from usbdrive 'vlc-record-2016-07-17-15h16m55s-hr-fernsehen-Die fantastische Reise der Vögel (3_6).ts'
drop usbdrive vlc-record-2016-07-17-15h16m55s-hr-fernsehen-Die fantastische Reise der Vögel (3_6).ts ok
(recording state in git...)

What version of git-annex are you using? On what operating system?

git-annex version: 6.20161231-gc8eeb17da

Linux XXX 4.8.13-1-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Fri Dec 9 07:24:34 CET 2016 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Have you had any luck using git-annex before? (Sometimes we get tired of reading bug reports all day and a lil' positive end note does wonders)

Yes! I use git-annex without a problem since years. This is the first time I have really no idea what's going on.

done