Just wondering, which part of the bootup stage is fstab loaded? If it's after mounting the root fs(which is where I get the kernel panic) then it wouldn't help would it?

In any case I'll try your method and see if it works, but does e2label work if I connect my device as sdb to a full fledged Mandriva Linux box(which is sda)? My storage device's Linux system is extremely barebones. The only shell access I have comes from a busybox shell, which doesn't have e2label. So, will it work if I use my Mandriva box's e2label to set the labels for my storage device?

edit: managed to download and build e2fsprogs and copied it over to the storage device. However, when I try to run e2label with sdb/sdc when only sda is connected, it says it can't find the device. Well, I only have 1 such device right now, so I can only make changes to it. Your original instructions call for the modification of the other drives, which I don't have(and can't have, since there are millions of drives out there that the user could be plugging in). Also, as all these storage devices will be identical(I can't be manually relabeling them in mass production), wouldn't they all be labeled to, say, OS1, and wouldn't that cause problems?

So, I'm not sure how to proceed.