I've been a Debian user ever since Red Hat dropped their 7.3 release support. I've been using unstable (sid) with no problems, until lately. The fault seems to lie in udev.
I don't know how, but a few days ago one of my Debian servers lost its /dev directory completely. Linux could no longer boot with an empty /dev, so I had to fix it with a boot disk. And I don't like doing that, since my 8-port Belkin switchbox hasn't arrived yet.
Seems like this had something to do with upgrading or removing the udev package from the system. I recommend caution when doing anything with udev..
Even more problems now with installing new kernel images. I don't understand why, but when I install 2.6.8 or 2.6.10, I get zero-length initrd images like this:
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Feb 9 19:20 /boot/initrd.img-2.6.10-1-686
Well, gotta dig into it now and see why it happens..
Problem solved. The empty initrd images were being created by mkinitrd, which uses a special device called /dev/fd/3 for outputting the cramfs image. As it turns out, I had copied the /dev/fd directory off a bootdisk, causing /dev/fd/3 to become a regular file. In fact, /dev/fd should be a symlink to /proc/self/fd.
crw-r--r-- 1 root root 3, 0 Feb 9 20:43 /dev/fd/0 crw-r--r-- 1 root root 3, 0 Feb 9 20:43 /dev/fd/1 crw-r--r-- 1 root root 3, 0 Feb 9 20:43 /dev/fd/2 -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4493312 Feb 10 00:27 /dev/fd/3 crw------- 1 root root 29, 0 Feb 9 20:43 /dev/fd/4 crw------- 1 root root 4, 0 Feb 9 20:43 /dev/fd/5
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 13 Feb 10 00:47 /dev/fd -> /proc/self/fd
So that's that. Just one of the joys of using Linux. (Of course, under Windows, in a case like this you would have no choice but to reinstall everything, but that's another story.)