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My Pi was working for a while while I tried to set up a wifi dongle, I started getting kernel panics. I thought I might have messed something up so put in a fresh SD card with a fresh Debian image. I get a kernel panic at the login prompt now (takes about 40 seconds to happen).

Is this a hardware problem? Should I ask for an exchange?

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What does the error say? – user46 Jul 6 '12 at 16:17
Have you since removed the wifi dongle? Have you tried another sd card? If yes to both of these, i would ask for an exchange. – user606723 Jul 6 '12 at 17:41
What power supply are you using? – Alex Chamberlain Jul 6 '12 at 18:05
Did you check the sha1sum of your downloaded image? – Joost Jul 6 '12 at 23:04
.. Try not using a real usb power supply. You might be undervolting the RPI with those batteries. – user606723 Jul 7 '12 at 20:11

Wifi dongle is most likely no supported. It takes too much power from the USB port.

Remember that USB hubs, keyboards and many other USB peripherals are also in the list and most of them will not work. (it seems any USB mouse works.. yay! but no on screen keyboard in any X.. doh)

I got the very same messages when I first booted squeeze with a generic 8139usb g/b and I got kernel panics and all sorts of garbage. Took it out and works fine . Also when you try and plug it in after it boots.. it crashed to OS in similar fashion.

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

A combination of the latest raspbian and not using a battery-pack as a power supply meant no kernel panic. This answer is only to point out that power issues do lead to kernel panics.

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