First, some information about the computer:
NEC Spirit 550 (circa 2005)
Pentium 4 3.6GHz
IDE only. No SATA
With a 3.5" 200GB IDE drive, I can install Debian Jessie with no issues.
I've now swapped the 3.5" drive with a IDE 2 CF adapter and a SanDisk Extreme 16GB Compact Flash card. Windows XP installs with no issue, but I cannot get Debian to work.
Installing Debian Jessie goes without error. Upon rebooting, I get the error: "attempt to read or write outside of disk" without any boot menu. After much research, I discover that I need a separate /boot partition. This worked, although I don't know why it was needed. Now it boots to a grub menu, but it won't load Debian "properly". After "Loading, please wait..." I get tons of errors about nouveau and 1 error "DRM GPU lockup" and then the screen gets corrupted. Recovery mode will work after a fashion. There are some console errors about 'ata' "failed to identify" "device not ready" "link is slow to respond", etc. Then I'm asked to "Give root password for maintenance". CTRL-D to continue, and then either a corrupted screen again or sometimes onto the graphical login screen. If I get to a desktop environment, everything works fine.
Dell XPS 17 L702X i7 2860QM 2.5GHz - 32GB RAM - 4G WWAN - Pioneer TD05-BDR
NEC Spirit 550 P4 3.6GHz HT - 2GB RAM - nVidia 7600GT - Pioneer BDR-209DBK
ASUS P8P67 EVO i7 3770K - 32GB RAM - 2x nVidia 660GTX SLI'd