Troubleshooting: "du: fts_read: No such file or directory" error

I've just spent a good few hours trying to find any clues to the problem I was getting. du command would fail with a mysterious "fts_read" error, and there didn't seem to be any good answers on the net with explanations why. I figured someday this post will be found and might save someone a lot of time. It's a lengthy post and I believe the first one on this blog to be truly "advanced" in a technical sense.

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