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Debian install failing on Power3

I have 4 Power3 RS/6000 IBM AIX machines that my company was getting rid of. Two of them have 400Mhz processors. I have enough ram for each of the two to have 1.5 Gig. I can put two 36 Gig SCSI hard drives in each one. With all this memory and a 64 bit bus, I was convinced that I could get two of these workstations set up for video conversion among other uses. It's just not going to happen with the AIX system they came with. I can't get them to compile much of anything and despite all the hard drive space, they are all short on memory. The logical volume setup on it is too complicated for me. I'm convinced they're not worth the metal cases they came in unless I manage to install some form of Linux.

Here's the problem. I can't get any Linux distro to install to it. Even distros that recognize it as a Power3 don't get past booting the kernel. They all fail in the same way. I get the boot screen, I choose the correct boot option, I get the white screen of death that says it's returning " ". Apparently, it doesn't find what it's supposed to be returning.

My PC has Etch installed and I would love to get Etch installed on these workstations as well. What I would really like to get done is a cluster. I think there's potential for these dumpster refugees if I could just get a usable and free operating system on them. I may have to just throw them away if I can't figure out what's stopping me.

I do have them setup to boot off of cd. I know that others have successfully installed Sarge on these. I know that Etch is supposed to support them out of the box. What could be causing these machines to refuse to start up an install? Does anyone have experience with IBM Power3?


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