It's a new HP Pavilion dv9740us notebook, with dual cores, 3G ram and
350G disks (160G X 2), and 512mb dedicated video memory, with NVDIA
GeForce 8600M-GS.

I deleted the windows D: drive on the second drive, and intalled
Mandriva 2008. The install went perfectly, just like I'm used to. Then
the fun started. Boot seems to go OK until it starts udev. Out of the
many error messages, the one that seems to always pop-up is
"udevd-event[2045]: run_program: '/sbin/modprobe' abnormal exit". It
may get a little further, but always locks up after setting hostname.

I get the same whether booting normal mode or fail-safe. After scanning
the Mandriva group with google, I've tried various combinations of
boot-time options (arrow-down to failsafe, F2 for Other Options):
acpi=off, noapic, irqpoll, apm=off, ide=nodma, etc. So far I haven't
found any magic combination that will let me boot this laptop into
Mandriva. Grub seems fine, and Vista still works.

If anybody's got any suggestions to try, please let me know.