[ubuntu] autoremove hosed my system. Please help me recover...

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http://ubuntuforums.org – I'm on Raring, 64 bit. I noticed that when installing/updating, apt-get kept prompting me that I could do an autoremove. So, finally I did... but then suddenly basic commands like ls stopped working. I was forced to restart, but I can't boot up anymore. I get past the grub bootloader, but then it just stops with the caps-lock key flashing. So, I tried booting into recovery mode (using various kernels) - but I end up in kernel panic part way through the boot process. So, I have installed Raring to a USB key, and can access all my partitions and data (phew...) I'd be grateful if someone could (Hardware)