Well, after hand loading them, do you see a wireless device:
If so, has it associated with the access point:
eth0 IEEE 802.11-DS ESSID:"junk" Nickname:"sidearm"
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.422GHz Access Point: 00:03:2F:01:D6:97
Bit Rate:11Mb/s Tx-Power=15 dBm Sensitivity:1/3
Retry limit:4 RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Link Quality:40/92 Signal level:-55 dBm Noise level:-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:11
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0
This being the important bit: Access Point: 00:03:2F:01
That's the MAC address of the access point, a pretty good sign the wireless side of things is doin' alright.
If its not there, let's try some things:
ifconfig ath0 up
iwconfig ath0 essid nameofyournetwork
See it yet? Using WEP?
iwconfig ath0 enc 1234123412
Of course, use your key.
Once you can see the MAC:
Or is mandrake still using dhcpcd... herm....
All of the above has to be executed as root of course. Post back where you get suck.