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'machine check while in PAL mode'?

I was upgrading my Alpha (LX164) to the latest potato packages this
evening and got the following message:

(Reading database ... 18270 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to replace sysvinit 2.78-1 (using .../sysvinit_2.78-2_alpha.deb) ...
Unpacking replacement sysvinit ...
Setting up sysvinit (2.78-2) ...
Installing new version of config file /etc/init.d/mountall.sh ...
Installing new version of config file /etc/init.d/mountnfs.sh ...

halted CPU 0

halt code = 7
machine check while in PAL mode
PC = 18400

and dropped down to the SRM console.

Anybody got any idea what this might be caused by?

(For reference, on bootup, aboot says:
aboot: Linux/Alpha SRM bootloader version 0.5
aboot: switching to OSF/1 PALcode version 1.22)

I then get
INIT: cannot execute "/etc/init.d/rc"
[ls shows it's mode 644.]

This of course means / was mounted read-only and all
sorts of things are hideously broken...

On running fsck the filesystem appears to have mangled itself
in a spectacular fashion. In particular, it seems to have
nuked /var/lib/dpkg/status (lots of trailing NULs) and 
/var/lib/dpkg/available (dpkg complains:
  dpkg: parse error, in file `/var/lib/dpkg/available' near line 2 
  package `telnet': value for `status' field not allowed in this context
and won't do anything useful.)

I'm inclined to reinstall from scratch at this point :-<
(I hadn't got round to putting anything useful on the box...)

Peter Maydell

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