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upgrade of etch from beta2 net install to current level

I have a dual-booting box with an ASUS P4P800e Deluxe motherboard (socket 478) with a Radeon ATI 9550 graphics card. Etch using grub was installed this past spring 2006 with a 2.6.12 kernel from the beta2 network installation CDROM.

Since I now have ADSL (the motherboard has built-in IEEE 1394 WAN), I tried to upgrade etch with aptitude update and aptitude upgrade. It attempted to remove my only running kernel. I declined that option. It has hosed my display after reboot. I scripted the upgrade and believe that I can retrieve the text file if that is needed.

I was also foolhardy enough to attempt linux-image-2.6.18-3-686, but it also wanted to remove 2.6.12 which is my only kernel. Once I get Windows XP Professional configured correctly, I suppose I could download a current iso image and reinstall or just use Kubuntu. Mainly I want to know if I can use aptitude to finish the upgrade properly and then I would like to know the way to upgrade from 2.6.12 to 2.6.18 so that I can use a smp kernel with the Pentium 4 Prescott.

   Thanks for any help on the Debian recommended way to proceed.

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