The problems you are having can be solved by using a more up to date version. I would suggest Mandriva 2008, or 2007. Mandrake 9 is very buggy, I always used to have problems with it. Mandriva is what mandrake changed too. Here is a link to the newest version:
You are going to want to download the one that says Free, rather than Mandriva One, Because Mandriva One is a bootable disk.
I would suggest if you are just getting started to use Mandriva. I have found out of all the distros that I have tried out, which is about 15, Mandriva is the easiest to learn right off the bat. If you have any additional questions let me know.