I'm pretty much a Linux
too! My distro is Fedora Core 3, but in this respect, my problem seem to have been pretty similar to yours...
I found this site useful:
if you google "run levels" and Mandrake, I'm sure you'll find something similar if necessary, you probably won't need to.
The NVIDIA drivers basically want the xwindow system completely tuned out, so they can tinker with all its settings. If you've just moved over from windows, its basically like restarting your comp so the driver can do stuff in DOS before windows fires up again. Now you know what we have to do, here's how I did it:
Step 1: edit the file etc/inittab (u need 2b root)
I did this by firing up terminal, getting root access (su, then enter root password) and:
Step 2: change the default run level
Find the following in inittab:
# Default runlevel. The runlevels used by RHS are:
# 0 - halt (Do NOT set initdefault to this)
# 1 - Single user mode
# 2 - Multiuser, without NFS (The same as 3, if you do not have networking)
# 3 - Full multiuser mode
# 4 - unused
# 5 - X11
# 6 - reboot (Do NOT set initdefault to this)
the text explains the files. Basically, you just have to change the 5 to a 3.
reboot your comp log on as root and install the driver like you tried to before:
is probably all you need.
Hope you get your drivers fixed and everything goes well from here...