Troubleshooting the Install Process
Floppy Disk Reliability
The biggest problem for people installing Debian for the first time
seems to be floppy disk reliability.
The rescue 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 .
If you are booting with your own kernel instead of the one supplied
with the installer, be sure that CONFIG_DEVFS is not set in
your kernel. The installer is not compatible with
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.
There are, however, some limitations in our boot floppy set with
respect to supported hardware. Some Linux-supported platforms might
not be directly supported by our boot floppies. If this is the case,
you may have to create a custom rescue disk (see
), or investigate network
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 mem=512m.
Interpreting the Kernel Startup Messages
During the boot sequence, you may see many messages in the form
can't find something
something not present,
can't initialize something
, or even this driver release depends
on something .
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 ).
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
/target/var/log/debian-installer/ during the
installation, and /var/log/debian-installer/
after the computer has been booted into the installed system.
Submitting Bug Reports
If you still have problems, please submit a bug report. Send an email
to email@example.com. You
must include the following as the first lines of
Be sure to fill in version with the
version of the debian-installer that you used. If you don't know the
version number, fill in the date you downloaded the cd image, and
include the location where you found it, or the source of a CD you
You should also include the following information in your bug report.
If you use the program reportbug to submit your
report, this information will be included automatically.
flavor: flavor of image you are using
model: your general hardware vendor and model
memory: amount of RAM
scsi: SCSI host adapter, if any
cd-rom: CD-ROM model and interface type, e.g., ATAPI
network card: network interface card, if any
pcmcia: details of any PCMCIA devices
Depending on the nature of the bug, it also might be useful to report
whether you are installing to IDE or SCSI disks, other peripheral
devices such as audio, disk capacity, and the model of video card.
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.