The biggest problem for people using floppy disks to install Debian seems to be floppy disk reliability.
The boot floppy is the floppy with the worst problems, because it is read by the hardware directly, before Linux boots. Often, the hardware doesn't read as reliably as the Linux floppy disk driver, and may just stop without printing an error message if it reads incorrect data. There can also be failures in the Driver Floppies most of which indicate themselves with a flood of messages about disk I/O errors.
If you are having the installation stall at a particular floppy, the first thing you should do is re-download the floppy disk image and write it to a different floppy. Simply reformatting the old floppy may not be sufficient, even if it appears that the floppy was reformatted and written with no errors. It is sometimes useful to try writing the floppy on a different system.
One user reports he had to write the images to floppy three times before one worked, and then everything was fine with the third floppy.
Other users have reported that simply rebooting a few times with the same floppy in the floppy drive can lead to a successful boot. This is all due to buggy hardware or firmware floppy drivers.
If you have problems and the kernel hangs during the boot process, doesn't recognize peripherals you actually have, or drives are not recognized properly, the first thing to check is the boot parameters, as discussed in Section 5.2, “Boot Parameters”.
If you are booting with your own kernel instead of the one supplied
with the installer, be sure that
CONFIG_DEVFS is set in
your kernel. The installer requires
Often, problems can be solved by removing add-ons and peripherals, and then trying booting again. Internal modems, sound cards, and Plug-n-Play devices can be especially problematic.
If you have a large amount of memory installed in your machine, more
than 512M, and the installer hangs when booting the kernel, you may
need to include a boot argument to limit the amount of memory the
kernel sees, such as
There are some common installation problems that can be solved or avoided by passing certain boot parameters to the installer.
Some systems have floppies with “inverted DCLs”. If you receive
errors reading from the floppy, even when you know the floppy is good,
try the parameter
On some systems, such as the IBM PS/1 or ValuePoint (which have ST-506
disk drivers), the IDE drive may not be properly recognized. Again,
try it first without the parameters and see if the IDE drive is
recognized properly. If not, determine your drive geometry
(cylinders, heads, and sectors), and use the parameter
If you have a very old machine, and the kernel hangs after saying
Checking 'hlt' instruction..., then
you should try the
no-hlt boot argument, which
disables this test.
If your screen begins to show a weird picture while the kernel boots,
eg. pure white, pure black or colored pixel garbage, your system may
contain a problematic video card which does not switch to the
framebuffer mode properly. Then you can use the boot parameter
video=vga16:off to disable the framebuffer
console. Only the English
language will be available during the installation due to limited
console features. See Section 5.2, “Boot Parameters” for details.
Some laptop models produced by Dell are known to crash when PCMCIA device
detection tries to access some hardware addresses. Other laptops may display
similar problems. If you experience such a problem and you don't need PCMCIA
support during the installation, you can disable PCMCIA using the
hw-detect/start_pcmcia=false boot parameter. You can
then configure PCMCIA after the installation is completed and exclude the
resource range causing the problems.
Alternatively, you can boot the installer in expert mode. You will
then be asked to enter the resource range options your hardware
needs. For example, if you have one of the Dell laptops mentioned
above, you should enter
0x800-0x8ff here. There is also a list of some common
resource range options in the System
resource settings section of the PCMCIA HOWTO. Note that you
have to omit the commas, if any, when you enter this value in the
The kernel normally tries to install USB modules and the USB keyboard driver
in order to support some non-standard USB keyboards. However, there are some
broken USB systems where the driver hangs on loading. A possible workaround
may be disabling the USB controller in your mainboard BIOS setup. Another option
is passing the
at the boot prompt, which will prevent the modules from being loaded.
During the boot sequence, you may see many messages in the form
can't find , or
something not present
can't initialize , or even
this driver release depends
Most of these messages are harmless. You
see them because the kernel for the installation system is built to
run on computers with many different peripheral devices. Obviously, no
one computer will have every possible peripheral device, so the
operating system may emit a few complaints while it looks for
peripherals you don't own. You may also see the system pause for a
while. This happens when it is waiting for a device to respond, and
that device is not present on your system. If you find the time it
takes to boot the system unacceptably long, you can create a
custom kernel later (see Section 8.5, “Compiling a New Kernel”).
If you get through the initial boot phase but cannot complete the install, the bug reporter menu choice may be helpful. It copies system error logs and configuration information to a user-supplied floppy. This information may provide clues as to what went wrong and how to fix it. If you are submitting a bug report you may want to attach this information to the bug report.
Other pertinent installation messages may be found in
/var/log/ during the
after the computer has been booted into the installed system.
If you still have problems, please submit an installation report. We also encourage installation reports to be sent even if the installation is successful, so that we can get as much information as possible on the largest number of hardware configurations.
Please use this template when filling out
installation reports, and file the report as a bug report against the
installation-reports pseudo package, by sending it to
Package: installation-reports Boot method: <How did you boot the installer? CD? floppy? network?> Image version: <Fill in date and from where you got the image> Date: <Date and time of the install> Machine: <Description of machine (eg, IBM Thinkpad R32)> Processor: Memory: Partitions: <df -Tl will do; the raw partition table is preferred> Output of lspci and lspci -n: Base System Installation Checklist: [O] = OK, [E] = Error (please elaborate below), [ ] = didn't try it Initial boot worked: [ ] Configure network HW: [ ] Config network: [ ] Detect CD: [ ] Load installer modules: [ ] Detect hard drives: [ ] Partition hard drives: [ ] Create file systems: [ ] Mount partitions: [ ] Install base system: [ ] Install boot loader: [ ] Reboot: [ ] Comments/Problems: <Description of the install, in prose, and any thoughts, comments and ideas you had during the initial install.>
In the bug report, describe what the problem is, including the last visible kernel messages in the event of a kernel hang. Describe the steps that you did which brought the system into the problem state.