Update (February 10, 2006) - For info about static partitioning, check out my post entitled "Static vs. Dynamic Partitions".
Update (January 29, 2006) - FYI for those of you who have been having similar problems to the ones described below - I was able to boot up successfully using the 2.6.14-1.1656_FC4 kernel. If you're still having problems with a the latest FC4 kernel you're on your own!
I've been using VMware for the last several months to allow me to run the productivity apps I prefer (MS Office, iTunes, Picasa, etc) on my laptop while giving me the ability to run EDA tools under FC4. A recent kernel upgrade has started causing me problems, though. I can boot up just fine with the 2.6.12-1.1456_FC4 kernel but all hell breaks loose when I try to run the 2.6.14-1.1637_FC4 or 2.6.14-1.1644_FC4 kernels.
When either of those kernels try to boot I get a kernel panic. I was hoping to cut and paste the message into an email to send to some of my colleagues but couldn't figure out how to do it since VMware wouldn't let me easily capture the text (without using the brute force/non searchable approach of taking a screen shot). However, one of my colleagues clued me in to the fact that it is possible to dump messages from the kernel to the serial port. Luckily, VMware lets you capture the serial port output as a text file.
First, shutdown the virtual machine you're working with. Then select "VM->Settings->Add..." and add a serial port to the list of available VM hardware (if it hasn't been added already). I configured the serial port by setting it up to "Use output file". Next, start the virtual machine. Hit a key when it looks like the GRUB loader is about to start the boot sequence. Select the kernel you plan to boot and hit 'a' to modify the kernel arguments. Add the following: "console=ttyS0,57600 console=tty0". Then hit enter and let the boot sequence proceed as normal. You should see that the log messages from the kernel have been saved to the file you selected when configuring the virtual serial port. Here's the error related to my problem:
PCI: Cannot allocate resource region 4 of device 0000:00:07.1
Red Hat nash version 4.2.15 starting
Reading all physical volumes. This may take a while...
No volume groups found
Unable to find volume group "VolGroup00"
ERROR: /bin/lvm exited abnormally with value 5 ! (pid 333)
mount: error 6 mounting ext3
ERROR opening /dev/console!!!!: 2
error dup2'ing fd of 0 to 0
error dup2'ing fd of 0 to 1
error dup2'ing fd of 0 to 2
switchroot: mount failed: 22
Kernel panic - not syncing: Attempted to kill init!
As best as I can tell from a quick Google search, my problem has something to do with the Logical Volume Manager. Apparently if I'd statically partitioned the virtual disk I'd be OK. Too bad it's too late to fix that now! I guess I'm stuck using the old kernel version until I feel like spending several hours reinstalling and reconfiguring FC4.