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Installing Debian on USB HDD

I have a Dell Inspiron 8600 with a Maxtor 80GB HDD in a USB
2.0/Firewire 400 enclosure.  I know that this computer can boot USB
devices.  I want to be able to install Debian on the external HDD.

I downloaded and wrote to the disk the 110MB sarge netinst
debian-install image I pulled down yesterday.

I removed the internal hard drive to ensure the installation process
wouldn't mess up Windows XP (can't be harmed).

I booted the disk with the command "linux26
hd-detect/start_pcmcia=false" because without the last statement, the
computer would freeze when PC card services started.

When installing the base system, it would get to 40% and stop for a
minute.  The screen would turn red and tell me the debootstrap failed
with error 2.  I checked the F3 screen and it couldn't find the USB
device files.  I think it reads the base install up to 40% and then
begins writing but it has some trouble mounting the partitions.  By
the time it hits the debootstrap error, the busy light on the drive is
on constantly.  I try and return to the partition stage of the install
and no drives are listed.

I'll go back and write down all the errors I get and some more
observations, if any.  In the meantime, am I going about this
correctly?  If I can do these things, I should be fine:
1.  I can tell GRUB (I think only able) to boot USB.
2.  Compile USB so it can mount / as opposed to a seperate USB module
from the kernel because the modules would have to be in /lib on
another USB partition.

Thanks in advance, Nate.

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