Let's start with my setup and then how I got it going and why I think I had issues...
AMD Athlon 1.4GHZ Thunderbird CPU w/ copper cooler.
ECS K7S5A motherbaord. SiS chipset with integrated LAN and sound (SIS 900 and 7012 respectively).
Chaintech Geforce 4 MX 440 64MB DDR AGP card.
DVD + CDRW + WD 20GB ATA 100 hard disk @ 7200rpm (don't need huge, just fast. I have a server for huge).
Mandrake Linux 8.2 Power Pack Edition including many of the included commercial apps.
Corel DRAW for Linux
Quake 3 Arena
Soldier of Fortune
Following Mandrakesoft's advice on this setup, I grabbed the patch.pl file, wrote it to a floppy, inserted it in my floppy drive and then...
I booted to the CDROM and when I cam to the first selection screen where it asked if I want to install or upgrade, I hit F1. On the next screen I typed patch and hit enter. I then installed as usual, making certain that the development and documentation groups were selected.
Post install I went into software manager and made sure that anything gcc related and kernel source related got installed. I also made sure make and rpmbuild are installed. Next I made a directory called NV in my home dir. Next I grabbed the source rpms from the NVIDIA site and saved them in the NV directory.
I then logged out of X which brought me back to my text console then ran /bin/su -(enter)
cd /home/username/NV (enter)
rpm --rebuild NV* (enter)
cd /usr/src/RPM/RPMS/i586 (enter)
rpm --ivh NV* (enter)
I watched the stuff go by until it brought me back to the command prompt then..
In the modules area I made sure I had a line that said...
Ther is no equal sign there, that is IMPORTANT!!!
And under devices I changed driver "nv" to "nvidia"
I then saved my file, exited from su and started X. Everything worked smoothly.
Why do I think it got it working right? A few months ago you might remember a snippet in the tech news about AMD Athlon chips and NVIDIA video chips. There was an AGP memory addressing issue that had to be worked around with issuing the "nopentium" append line in your lilo.conf file if it acted up and caused you problems. I hadn't run into this until this problem, but can see how this could have impacted it. Also Mandrakesoft delivers serveral of the commercial apps on the CDROM compiled optimized for i686, which can cause problems with AMD based systems (stupid move on Mandrakesoft's part.). Mandrakesoft issued a patch on their errata page, but list it only for early pentiums and K6 based systems. The patch is called patch.pl, and appears to be a perl script. I am no programmer by any means, but it looks to me like what patch.pl does (from reading the source code of it...) looks like it checks your hardware architecture, assigns the nopentium tag to AMD based boxes, and grabs the appropriate packages for your architecture.
With the exception of Soldier of fortune not giving me any sound, and crashing X when it exits (I think that is sound / SOF related as well) the system runs flawlessly now, the video is IMPRESSIVE!
Here are a couple of do nots for you to try to avoid...
DO NOT use the precompiled rpms if you can avoid them, I have had more trouble with the 2960 precompiled rpm than you can imagine, and from what I am noticing on the newsgroups I am far from alone. It looks like NVidia, or whoever built their rpms dropped the ball. SuSe and Red Hat users are all telling me the same thing... and it appears to be this current version of the drivers...
You now know everything I know about the subject. I don't know if it will help, I was drinking Rum and coke when I reinstalled, maybe that will help...