debian boot kernel panic

Debian kernel or initramfs seems to have intermittent kernel panic at boot time. I have had these on & off over many kernels/upgrades. Many times, this problem seems to go away after a few hours or days. Till then, I dual-boot one of my other systems.

Initramfs unpacking failed: junk in compressed archive
Kernel panic - not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(0,0)
CPU: 1 PID: 1 Comm: swapper/0 not tainted 4.6.0-1-686-pae #1 Debian 4.6.4-1
...
Kernel Offset: disabled
---[ end Kernel panic - not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(0,0)

I suspect this happens more with the testing flavours, than with stable. I keep trying occassionally if debian kernel would boot without the kernel panic. If could boot atleast once, then I update my initramfs by

# update-initramfs -uv

Most times, this has resolved the issue.

This time, the problem seems to have continued far longer, probably because I am continuously using the system, and trying to reboot into this kernel very often. I have noticed the problem goes away, if I power off the system and come back after a few hours or days.

So, I tried to boot the alternate kernel /vmlinuz.old. And it booted clean :)

Thus the problem is further narrowed down to the current kernel, in this case linux-image-4.6.0-1-686-pae.

There are two methods to update the initramfs of an installed-kernel on debian systems.

Debian Kernel Handbook recommends
# dpkg-reconfigure linux-image-4.6.0-1-686-pae

Alternatively,
# update-initramfs -u -c 4.6.0-1-686-pae

ref: http://kernel-handbook.alioth.debian.org/ch-initramfs.html#s-initramfs-regen

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