Turned out my problems were only getting started. After I upgraded the kernel, I got more of the problems and eventually had to reboot and could not boot it again. With a combination of booting into a very old Knoppix, a relatively new Games Knoppix DVD, and my Kubuntu partition - I was able to investigate.
To keep a long story short, I probably have a hard disk problem on my Mandriva partition. rpm does not work properly and several of my core binary utilities (like ip, ifconfig, and even init got corrupt.).
At the moment I'm using Kubuntu to backup the Mandriva's partition important things to one of our WinXP machine which has a lot of free hard disk space. It didn't help that my sister shut down that computer before she went to sleep and interrupted my "tar -cjvf" operation, but a few quick command line scripts now allow me to backup just what is remaining to be backed up.
Writing from his Kubntu exile - Shlomi Fish.