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Old 12-20-2008, 10:50 PM
JP Vossen
Default Bug#509298: initrmfs prevents boot with kernel 2.6.26-1-686 in VMware using lsilogic SCSI disk

Package: initrd-tools
Version: Lenny (
Severity: important

I just upgraded a fully up-to-date Etch system to Lenny on a guest in
VMware Server 1. When I reboot into the 2.6.26-1-686 kernel I get stuck
at: "Begin: Waiting for root file system ..." during boot. It
eventually times-out to initramfs busybox prompt. When I poke around in

echo $ROOT = /dev/sda1 # As expected/desired
ls -l /dev = missing sd* # This is bad!

When I try my previous kernel 2.6.18-6-686, it works fine.

When I copied the file system from the SCSI to an IDE virtual disk,
removed the SCSI and ran only the IDE, both above kernels work fine.

I tried the following (and possibly other things I'm forgetting) on the
SCSI disk but nothing except the above worked:

aptitude reinstall linux-image-2.6-686
update-initramfs -k all -u
dpkg-reconfigure linux-image-2.6.26-1-686

So I am thinking that something that the initrd-tools are failing to do
is messing this up, so that you can't boot into 2.6.26-1-686 as a VMware
guest using an LSI SCSI virtual disk. Note that using this SCSI virtual
device is the VMware Workstation 5.5.9 "recommended" default when
creating a new VM set for Linux, Ubuntu.

Possibly related, I'm also getting errors like this from this guest VM
under the 2.6.18-6-686 kernel, once or twice an hour (pretty low low

kernel: mptscsih: ioc0: attempting task abort! (sc=dfbc4500)
kernel: sd 0:0:0:0:
kernel: command: Write(10): 2a 00 03 a4 13 5f 00 00 48 00
kernel: mptbase: ioc0: IOCStatus(0x004b): SCSI IOC Terminated
kernel: mptscsih: ioc0: task abort: SUCCESS (sc=dfbc4500)

I think that upgrading to the latest kernel would fix those, except due
to this bug I can't. (Well, since I switched to IDE I can and did.)

1) Revert to a previous kernel (e.g. 2.6.18-6-686 works for me)
2) Don't use SCSI disks in VMware VMs when running Debian (which I've
previously found to be a Good Idea anyway, but forgot this time).
3) Convert an existing host from SCSI to IDE on (tedious: briefly, the
only way I know how to do that is here:

JP Vossen, CISSP |:::======| jp{at}jpsdomain{dot}org
My Account, My Opinions |=========| http://www.jpsdomain.org/
"Microsoft Tax" = the additional hardware & yearly fees for the add-on
software required to protect Windows from its own poorly designed and
implemented self, while the overhead incidentally flattens Moore's Law.

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