Cannot update any system software

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I currently cannot update any system/apple software in any way.
If I run Software Update from the apple menu/system prefs, it informs me that my software is up to date, even though this is clearly not the case.
If I download the updates manually from Apple's website, they refuse to install. When I get to the Destination selection screen (i.e. "Select a Destination: <list of volumes>"), my startup disk is disabled! In the Installer log it says the following:
=== Starting check on volume /
Requirement: requires "certain file content criteria" PASS for root=/, domain=0
Requirement: requires "certain InstallationCheck criteria" PASS for root=/, domain=0
Requirement: requires "certain VolumeCheck criteria" FAIL for root=/, domain=0
=== Starting check on volume /
Requirement: requires "certain file content criteria" PASS for root=/, domain=0
_volumeAppeared: volumeCheckTool disabled Ti (this is the startup volume's name)
This first happened to me when I tried installing the QT 7.1 and Security Update 2006-003 updates back in May. It's still happening now with iTunes 6.0.5 and QT 7.1.2. The last thing I installed through SU was Security Update 2006-002 back in March.
Any ideas? This really, really *****.
PowerBook G4 867 mHz Mac OS X (10.3.9) 512 MB RAM, FireLite 80GB FW disk
PowerBook G4 867 mHz Mac OS X (10.3.9) 512 MB RAM, FireLite 80GB FW disk

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hm, you used to be able to edit your own posts. not anymore i guess.
the thing i want to add is that i have repaired both my permissions and the disk itself on the startup volume, to no avail. neither console.log nor system.log say anything when Installer fails on its volume checks.

November 30, -0001

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