I've been successful at the compilation! Running custom-configured 188.8.131.52 kernel now. So far, so good. The memory is reported correctly. Video is much better too (with a recent nVidia driver).
The next to-do is to get the monitor tick at 100 rather than 85 hz and 32 bit depth with 1600x1200 (which I can under Windows and see two facing pages in a page layout application). Frequency drop-down list ends at 85. It will be interesting to get inside XF86Config and probably do some driver tweaks. Then I can be in business as far as hardware is concerned.