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Debian 2.2 PPC freezes on PCP 210 (now 410 G3)

Hello all,

I am having problems with my computer freezing in Debian GNU/Linux 2.2r0a
PowerPC which requires that I reboot the machine (using cmd-ctrl-power) to
continue.  First, before I get into the description of the problem, here's
my computer's configuration:

* PowerComputing PowerCenter Pro 210
  - XLR8 MACh Carrier ZIF w/ 366 MHz G3 (overclocked to ~410 MHz)
  - 1 MB backside cache running at ~205 MHz (x1/2 multiplier)
  - ~58.8 MHz system bus speed (PCP rated at 60 MHz) (x7 multiplier)
  - No L2 cache (removed from motherboard)
  - 128 MB RAM (two 64 MB DIMMs)
  - Built-in ATI Rage II+ (4 MB) video (connected via VGA port)
  - Built-in SCSI-2 bus (internal & external used)
    . 4.2 GB Quantum 7200 rpm drive
    . 2.1 GB Western Digital 7200 rpm drive
    . 16x TEAC CD-ROM drive
    . 6x4x16x Yamaha CD-RW drive (external)
  - PCI Adaptec 2930U Ultra SCSI-2 bus (only internal used)
    . 9.1 GB DEC (Quantum?) 7200 rpm drive
  - Built-in 10Base-T Ethernet
* Extended keyboard (ADB)
* Kensington TurboMouse 5 (ADB)
* 17" Monitor (using 5 BNC to VGA cabling)
* Mac OS 8.6 US
* Debian GNU/Linux 2.2r0a Official 3 CD Binary Set

Now a (rather long) description of the problem:

Two days ago I tried installing Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 PowerPC on the
machine described above.  I have successfully installed and ran LinuxPPC
1999 on this machine and run Debian GNU/Linux on x86 boxen in the
past so I know the drill. I setup BootX 1.2.2 with the provided
kernel image (vmlinuz) and the ramdisk image (boot.bin), both from the
PowerPC Binary-1 CD.

I booted into the Debian 2.2 installer.  I went through the steps and 
answered the questions. I knew how to partition the 4.2 GB drive, setup
the networking, etc.  I rebooted as asked.  Again I booted, this time
clearing the "Use ramdisk" checkbox from BootX and correctly filling in
the target partition, into Debian 2.2.

Here's where things start to get strange.  I answer the questions after
booting, setup my packages then go to install my choices.  I am notified
that a subprocess of dpkg died because of a segmentation fault but dpkg
will continue.  So I let it figuring it is just a fluke.  It continues to
die, segfaulting all the way until at last dpkg freezes.  That's right,
the whole machine just stops, no blinking console cursor, no ctrl-C'ing
out of this one, no virtual terminals, no "oops" kernel messages, nothing.

So I wait... and wait... and wait.  I waited about 5 minutes until I said
forget it and rebooted using the Mac's three finger salute
(cmd-ctrl-power).  No problem, I thought, I'll just boot back into Debian
and fix it.  So I try again, fsck fixes problems then reports that I must
manually fix /var (the partition where apt/dpkg stores its files afaik).
I fix /var with fsck and continue.  I try installing the packages again,
but the same problems happen: dpkg's subprocesses die, segfaults, then
everything freezes.

Now I'm thinking that it could just be a problem with dpkg so I decide to
just reinstall Debian.  I go through all the steps listed above and
continute to run into the same problems.  After crashing Debian, oh four
or five times, I start getting freezes at startup, usually right after the
line "Inet Superserver: started.".  I go to single user mode and try to
run dpkg, same problems: segfaults then freezes.  Pretty soon I can't even
boot Debian in single user mode without a freeze.

By now I'm thinking that it's the hardware, a faulty memory chip or hard
drive.  So I try disconnecting the drive I have been using (4.2 GB Q) and
use the 2.1 GB WD.  Installed Debian, segfaulted, freezed, dead again.  I
try moving the memory around, swapping slot positions and running memory
checking software (GURU under Mac OS) - nothing helped and the memory
"checked out".

So I come across this mailing list, search the archives on
<http://lists.debian.org/> for "freeze" and such trying to find someone
else who had the problem but only found one person who says that his
problem was installing Debian over MkLinux?  Obviously, that's not my
problem here.

Onto the questions I hope to have answered:

Why am I having these freezes in Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 PowerPC?

Is it processor/backside cache/bus speed related?  If so, why has Mac OS
run fine for over a year in the current configuration?

Is it SCSI bus/card/drive related?  If so, why would separate Debian
installations to two drives fail and neither Mac OS nor Debian complain of
any SCSI issues?

Is it memory related?  If so, again why would Mac OS run fine with this
memory as it has been for over two years?

Is it distribution CD related?  If so, why would all the MD5SUMs of
the files on the Debian CD-ROMs check out with their corresponding MD5SUMs
in the CD's MD5SUMS.txt file?  Why would I be able to mount the CD-ROMs in
both Mac OS and Debian?

What else could it be?  I ask this sincerely because I have run out of

I would love to run Debian GNU/Linux PowerPC on my computer (as my primary
OS) but am so far unable to do so.  I have successfully run LinuxPPC on
my machine in the past but prefer Debian as a distribution (and
philosophy) over RedHat derivatives.  Unfortunately, if LinuxPPC works and
Debian doesn't, I will be inclined to go with the former.

Thanks in advance for reading and responding to my email.



Matt Christian - mattc@visi.com
Learn to love and love to learn.

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