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kernel panic - not syncing, attempt to kill the idle task

My friends laptop that I installed debian on for him started to give a kernel
panic this morning with the message, kernel panic, not syncing, attempt to
kill the idle task.

I don't have physical access to it at the moment. We tried removing power and
battery and pressing the power button to drain capacitors, but it didn't help.
Tried booting in safe mode but it didn't help either.

He doesn't have another kernel installed at the moment.

Would this be a hardware (disk/memory) issue or can something else be put to
blame? Could it be that just the kernel binary was corrupted and needs to be


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