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VFS mount failure on i810 system

I had some stuff laying around, including a Supermicro 370SED board (i810
chipset), so I decided to build a testing box. However I can't boot it.

Using either woody or potato, any boot disk flavor (compact, idepci, etc) I
always get:
Kernel panic: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on 01:00

I've looked in the archives and it sounds like this is a ramdisk issue, and
that this problem occurs for people using their own kernels. However the
boot disks which should have all that built in.

The way I'm booting it by having all the disk images on a FAT partition,
booting from DOS, and running the install batch file.

What is the initrd/ramdisk stuff sensitive to? Bios settings, memory? Is
there a way to boot without a ramdisk?

mark l

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