here are some issues which might apply to my situation
"Words of caution
If you find that 1.0-5328 hangs on X startup on a newer Via chipset, please download the current 2.6 patch for this release. This bug is not specific to Linux 2.6.
Linux 2.6 AGPGART seems to be broken on some chipsets. If you find that your system hangs upon starting X, potentially with ASCII garbage all over the screen, try the built-in NVIDIA AGP GART driver (Option "NvAgp" "1", AGPGART not loaded) instead.
Many ACPI and UP I/O APIC configurations seem to be unreliable; if you're experiencing startup or stability problems, it may help to disable them with acpi=off and noapic. In some cases, a combination of pci=noacpi and pci=biosirq has also been reported to help.
The (partial) mem=nopentium workaround for the AMD Athlon/AGP stability problem on Linux will not work as expected on Linux 2.6. It has been made obsolete with the introduction of Andi Kleen's page attribute interface in Linux 2.4.20 (also present in Linux 2.6).
can anyone try to help me with these. i'm a little fuzzy on everything but the NvAGP option, which i just left in there because it describes my symptoms, ascii garbage and lock up that is.
what of the patch and the "<?>=<?>" bits, where should these be specified?