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Old 02-17-2004, 10:45 AM   #1
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Question Debian Woody floppy install problems with ATAPI floppy

I'm currently trying to install Debian Woody on a Gateway Solo 2500. It's my first linux install of any sort. The Solo has a 4.something G IDE HD with one approx. 2 Gig partition currently running a (rotted through) WinME and the other 2 an unformatted parition set apart for linux. The CD-Rom is dead and I'm too cheap/poor to buy a new one, so I have two options for install: from DOS or by floppy.

I have tried installing vanilla, bf2.4, and idepci flavors--none have worked. The problem is the same for all flavors, but different for different installation methods.

First, the floppy install. I can boot up just fine; the problem comes when I have to insert the root disk. If I try a boot without any parameters, woody simply fails to read my drive. It gives me about six "end_request: I/O error, dev 02:00 (floppy), sector x" error messages, with x starting at 0 for the first four and then going to 2 and 4 towards the end of the list. Then the prompt comes back up again.

I have an ATAPI floppy which the kernel recognizes as hdd with 4 partitions (hdd1-4), although it also claims to see fd0 at 1.44 megabytes. So, I figure the kernel just doesn't know where to look for the floppy, thinking the floppy drive is a hard drive. Next, I try the boot with different parameters, including "root=/dev/hdd," "hdd=ide-floppy, "root=/dev/hdd1" etc. (I also set 'vga=ask' in order to get time to switch the disks.) The problem is now basically the same: the booter doens't recognize my disk as a boot disk. Sometimes it drops directly to a Kernel panic, sometimes it claims it can't recognize hdd's partition table, and sometimes it complains that the bread in my FAT won't rize and gives me a few errors obviously related to its inabillity to understand the data on the floppy. (Which I get depends on which combo of parameters I send.) Then the kernel panics.

When I try a boot from DOS (using loadlin and the provided images--can't do with bf2.4, however), I get the error message: VFS: Cannot open root device 00:00 and a kernel panic.

I have thought about formatting the parition with some other tiny-distro linux (Basic linux or Alphalinux are two I've seen online)--I even tried it with Basic linux, but its cfdisk complained that my hda2 was flawed or bad in some other way. (Unformatted? Basic linux has no format command.) Then I could perhaps copy the root disk files to hda2 from this tiny distro to install Debian that way. I don't know if this would fix my problem, though (since loadlin didn't help). Also, I don't know if the distro will recognize my screwy ATAPI floppy (Basic linux didn't, for instance).

Any suggestions?


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