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I may be out of luck here, but its also possible a solution is just around the corner.
I have a Compaq Presario 1210 us. There are certain components that have given me trouble in the past, when it comes to linux; one of which is the usb. In the past, the usb would actually freeze the linux kernel.
I recently installed Mandrake 10 Official, and the installer didn't lock up from the usb... I was impressed!! The install finished, the machine rebooted, and mandrake booted. All was fine. I plugged my Logitech USB mouse (standard, black, 2-button wheel mouse). Nothing happened. No power to the mouse. My built-in synaptec touchpad worked just fine...
I rebooted, and made sure the Logitech mouse was already plugged into the machine when linux started to boot. The OS came up fine, but I had no pointer (well, there was a pointer, but I couldn't use it...). My touchpad and the USB mouse were both inoperable.
Just to determine whether it was usb or the mouse, I plugged my Lexar USB drive into the machine. Nothing happened. I left it in the machine, and rebooted. Same results. Linux has no idea it's there.
I checked 'lsmod' and found that the usb_uhci module is running. 'lsusb' shows only the usb bus/hub. It gives no other information. 'dmesg' also gives no information on any usb activity.
In prior distros, I had to disable usb alltogether to get the machine start (or to even start setup). This time I did nothing. I installed normally.