The time used to dependency resolving can be redused quite a lot by compiling a kernel that contains only support for your hardware.
To compile a kernel in debian, you need to
apt-get install kernel-source-2.4.XX kernel-package build-essential
(replace XX with your favorite version)
and read the /usr/share/doc/kernel-package/README.gz
For the unresolved symbols: get rid ot the aout-format support.
in case of /etc/mtab, updating of mount-package might help.
Or you can try to make /etc/mtab to be a symlink to /proc/mounts.