It seems that Mandriva 2006.0 will indeed install on a Durabook R15D, and the magic word is “noauto”, as in, hit F1 then type “linux noauto «Enter»”. The double-take part of this is that noauto is not supposed to actually change anything that the installer does, except to make it stop and ask about device drivers for everything instead of auto-detecting them. It auto-detects them anyway, but this time they work. D’oh?
However, the installer then botches the detection of the video card (it’s an Intel 915) and sound (i810), and once the installation is complete, it doesn’t boot. Adding the parameters from the install/rescue boot don’t make it go, either.
It seems that the kernel used for installation and rescue is not as similar to the identically-versioned running kernel as it ought to be. Since there doesn’t appear to be a binary RPM for the installer kernel, I’m setting about making one. I’m reasonably sure that the laptop hardware is stable, since rebuilding the kernel RPMs from the .src.rpm involves (so far) six kernel rebuilds from scratch without a hiccup.
I also stumbled across this intelligent commentary in the news, which encapsulates my own feelings on the ID-in-court thing fairly well.