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> with Dual P3 550's and 2GB of RAM in them. Redhat 6.2 with its stock
> kernel 2.2.14-5 detects the 2GB of RAM and boots up happily.
> When I compile 2.2.17 with 2GB RAM, I get the following error on boot
> up

You probably want to get the 'bigmem' patches

> request_module[block-major-8]: Rootfs not mounted
> VFS: Cannot open root device 08:01
> Kernel Panic: VFS: Unable to mount root FS on 08:01

It failed to map the scsi controller it seems. You could try limiting to say
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