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Installation Problems

I tried installing Debian Potato, vanilla flavor, with floppies on a COMPAQ
laptop, Contura 400C. It has 20480 KB RAM, of wich 4 MB are on the System
Board and 16 MB are part of an Expansion Module, an SL enhanced 486DX2 processor
at 40 MHz, an integrated 387-Compatible coprocessor; I have a primary DOS
FAT-16 partition (410MB), a primary Linux partition (50MB)(unformatted) and and
expanded partition with two other unformatted Linux partitions(70MB and
210MB). The partitions were made with Partition Manager, a very basic
DOS-utility. I downloaded the disk images with DownloadAccelerator.
Upon inserting the rescue disk and rebooting, it checked the RAM,
accessessed the floppy and then simply stopped. The curser was on the top row,
blinking. I retried it a couple of times, rawriting it on different floppies each
I then tried it on my primary computer (DELL Pentium 166, 32MB RAM, AMIBIOS
version A10 by Americanmegatrends, one 3GB FAT-32 Win95 partition). The same
thing happened. 
I assumed that the problem was that the file was corrupted.
I redownloaded the disk image. This time, on both computers, I got a message
that the floppy is "not a bootable disk". 
I redownloaded it a third time from a different server, with the same result
as the second on both computers.
I tried the Compact flavor. The rescue disk worked fine on both computers,
but upon inserting the root image disk, I got a message "invalid compressed
format (err=1)<5>VFS: insert root floppy and press ENTER". 
Upon hitting enter, without changing disk, there is some obscure code
repeated twice and then a "Kernel panic: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on 2:00
ide0: unexpected interrupt, status=0x80, count=1".
I tried redownloading the compact root twice, rawrote each onto different
floppies and tried them on both computers with the same results on both
I have no new ideas of what to try next. What should I do?

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