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major problem booting Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 on a Workgroup Server 8550/200

Hi there,

After several installation attempts, I am stuck with a very weird problem.
The machine is a Workgroup Server 8550/200.
There's MacOS 9.0.4 on it, and remaining free space on the disk.

Here is how I installed Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 on it:
- I downloaded http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian-cd/4.0_r0/powerpc/iso-cd/debian-40r0-powerpc-kde-CD-1.iso and burned it on a CD-R
- of course, this is an OldWorld machine, so it will never boot off the CD
- I boot into MacOS 9.0.4
- I insert the Debian 4.0 powerpc CD in the SCSI CD ROM drive, and it appears on the Desktop
- I start the installation procedure by lauching BootX with the vmlinux and initrd.gz files that can be found in /install/powerpc on the CD *and* I add "priority=low" in the options (you'll see later why)
- the partitions are as follow:
/dev/sda8 is swap
/dev/sda9 is /var/log
/dev/sda10 is /
- the installation happens flawlessly: the only trick is that I have chosen "priority=low" so that I can tell debian-installer NOT to install quik. Experience has show that if debian-installer attempts to install quik, not only does the installation of quik fail, but... The machine is rendered unbootable, there's a flashing ? in a floppy, and it won't boot into MacOS 9.x anymore
- also, before I reboot, I mount my MacOS partition read-write and I copy the following files from /boot to the MacOS partition:

When Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 is installed, well, the only thing left to do is to boot it.
And here comes the major problem.

I'm using BootX to boot with the following parameters:
(see the little screenshot at http://pierre.baudu.in/files/20070424_BootX.jpg )

- kernel: vmlinux-2.6.18-4-powerpc
- force video settings: enabled
- use specified ramdisk: initrd.img-2.6.18-4-powerpc
- ramdisk size: 8192
- no video driver: enabled
- more kernel arguments: root=/dev/sda10

And, BootX starts booting, loads the kernel, but it always fails to mount the root filesystem.
The error message is always the same:
VFS: Cannot open root device "s●da10" or unknown-block(0,0)
Please append a correct "root=" boot option
Kernel panic - not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(0,0)
<0>Rebooting in 180 seconds..


Notice the "weird charachter" which appears between "s" and "da10" instead of "sda10"
This is not at all a typo I made. I double-checked I wasn't making any typos in the boot parameters.
I think (but I might be wrong) that BootX and/or perhaps the kernel itself is adding this weird charachter to the name of the root device.

I used backspace to clear the field in BootX and typed properly root=/dev/sda10
Apparently there was some kind of "invisible typo".
But booting still fails, now the message is:
VFS: Cannot open root device "sda10" or unknown-block(0,0)
Please append a correct "root=" boot option

But /dev/sda10 is there ! And Debian 4.0 was working properly on it since it installed flawlessly.

This is puzzling.

Any help would be appreciated

Thank you,
Pierre Bauduin
Linux enthusiast since 1996
Debian GNU/Linux user
Linux Registered User #64711

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