Ho Hum. The joy's of the linux learning curve.
But yes, sometimes "they" just do a few mod's between distro revision's, but sometimes the changes are very fundamental.
All I can really say, is that Mandrake have come a considerable distance since I tried it at version 8.2 - which was pretty neat, but you still had some work to do with it.
I'm just waiting for version 10 official (powerpack dvd) too arrive. 10 community was a blast, especially with the 2.6 kernel
p.s. the only time I've had snag's with my scrolling mouse facility, was when I was meddling with gentoo, and all I had to do was add
option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
and it worked a treat (logitech Mouseman Optical Pro, by the way)