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USB-floppy install problem

I'm trying to install debian 4.0r0 via the floppy images. The laptop is a Averatec 3200 series laptop with AMD Athlon XP-m 2000+, 256MB RAM, a dead DVD-ROM/CD-RW (will not work at all), Via chipset(not sure exactly which) and Via-rhine II ethernet. The floppy drive i'm trying to install from is an external USB floppy.

my BIOS boot the floppy fine to the Debian boot floppy, but after it starts trying to load the kernel, i hit the error:

floppy0: no floppy controllers found
cannot load floppy

and then it just hangs after that. I have installed debian before on this laptop when the CD drive has seen better days and never had the USB working initially after an install.

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