Ted: Yes, I can't say I'm sure why e2fsprogs got involved there. I suspect nobody investigated terribly closely. :-(
Steve: I tried to look into this today, and discovered that I'm unable to run an installer test on powerpc right now because pata-macio is missing from the relevant udeb so the installer can't talk to any CD or disk devices, at least in my qemu configuration. I'll send a patch to the kernel team for that, and retry this test for alpha-2.