New Kernel Boot Issues

Written: 11th February 2008
Section: Linux

When using something, I like to know how it's working and have at least some knowledge of "what's going on under the bonnet". This is my reasoning for running Debian rather than the more straight-forward Ubuntu. This isn't a kernel how-to, but more an answer to what appears to be a common problem with no definitive answer available. Being that it took the best part of three hours to solve I thought it'd be worth documenting in the hope that it helps someone else having the same problem in the future.

When I discovered, that although my machine has 2GB of RAM fitted, only 876MB was recognised and that only one of the cores in my dual-core CPU were being used, I thought maybe it was time to do something about it and recompile the kernel. The memory issue was resolved by setting CONFIG_HIGHMEM4G=y and the multi-core option enabled with CONFIG_SMP=y. After half an hour or so of compiling, the new kernel was installed and machine rebooted only to find the following message:

sbin/init: 432: cannot open dev/console: No such file
Kernel panic - not syncing: Attempted to kill ini

Apparently other people having this problem were missing the character files /dev/console and /dev/null but this wasn't what I was experiencing. It turns out that I failed to enable the SCSI/SATA modules before compiling the kernel. A silly mistake. These options are easy to find using either sudo make menuconfig or sudo make xconfig, which makes it even worse for my rep. Oh well, onwards!

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