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Oracle8iR2 install problem on Debian potato

I can't get oracle to install on a debian potato system.  The
problem is that the installer will not run.  What I get is

Initializing Java Virtual Machine from
Please wait...

(that should be one long line...)
Then the screen immediately fills up with

whence: not found
whence: not found

I think I am missing something on the system but I can't tell
what.  I tried changing /bin/sh to point to ksh.  The whence
messages went away but the thing hangs and takes all the cpu.

Anyone have any ideas?  Any help, no matter how trivial, is
greatly appreciated.

I have looked at the web site http://jordan.fortwayne.com/oracle/index.html.
It seems to be very good but doesn't address this problem at
all.  In fact, most everybody seems to be able to run the
installer but me!...


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