kernel panic: vfs: unable to mount fs 08:41
If I'm reading that line correctly, something definitely went wrong during your installation. As far as I know, the "8" is the major device number for SCSI
block devices, and the number following the colon should indicate the exact SCSI device in your system, but 41 doesn't look right. For IDE (ATA) drives, the major device number should be "3". Which drive (primary master, primary slave, etc.) are you trying to install Linux on?
If the installation went OK, but you can't boot into Linux normally after that, the answer might lie in your /etc/fstab file, which indicates which filesystems get mounted and what mount point they should use. The problem is that, since the hard drive won't mount, you'll have to boot with a floppy in order to try to access the /etc directory.
Sorry if this all sounds a little vague, but I'm on hour 12 at work with a few more to go.
Also- there used to be issues with the special (and hidden) "diagnostic" partition Compaq uses on their drives, but I thought that wasn't a problem anymore. If no one else has a better answer, you might consider doing a low-level format of the drive(not
with a Compaq drive utility) before attempting a reinstall.
Hope this helps.