I wrote the following before anyone else posted. I just refreshed and found other posts. This was my first impression:
I don't use Mandrake, but I'll try to help if I can.
"Tell INIT to go to single user mode
INIT:Going Single User
Not exactly what I would have expected. I guess knoppix failsafe has spoiled me a little. This is intentional behavior. "Single user mode" is also called "run level 1". Its a text only mode that let's you diagnose problems and tinker with the system if it is misbehaving (which it sounds to me like it is). The command line in linux is kinda like DOS, but most of the commands are different (the interpreter here is called "bash").
You've probably already tried booting up without USB devices pugged into your system. If you haven't, try that first.
Your current prompt doesn't look like it shows you your current path. If you ever get lost, and need to know which directory you're in, try "pwd".
I would start by looking at the boot up log. It is stored in /var/log/boot.msg . Try the following:
This will let you see all the log files. My system shows boot.msg and boot.omsg . I believe that the first of the two is the boot log from the last time I started it up, and the second is the older log from the previous. You probably want boot.omsg . Try:
Less is a useful file reader. You can use the up, down, home, end keys to navigate the file, and 'q' to quit.
Now to respond to other posts:
Hmmm...I get the impression that nobody has any ideas,,,,,I'll wait
(pacific standard time mind you)
Patience. Please. Especially when we should be sleeping (lol).
Idea #1 sounds in order, though I would still first check to boot log since he can get at it. #2 sounds a bit drastic (though he may find it necessary in the future).
Run level one is intentional here. Apparently Mandrake has chosen runlevel one as part of their failsafe. Besides, I would expect the default runlevel to be 5 (I think 5 is more common than 3 for gui, though 3 is sometimes used. 3 is usually normal text mode).
I don't know which editors Mandrake installs by default. I wouldn't recommend 'vi' for a newbie. That is one editor that must be learned before it is useful. I'd use mcedit or nano if you have them available. you might want to try putting a # at the begining of the /etc/fstab line referring to usbfs (like Dark_Helmet suggested).
I don't think you need a rescue disk as long as you can get into run level 1. To make you aware, most distro's have a recover function on their installation CD's. You could probably use your MEPIS CD as a rescue platform. I recommend knoppix generally.