Well, BlackHawk, if you're still around, I found a possible solution on another forum, dedicated to my particular brand of laptop. Please don't ask me for details on how to do what this guy said, since I'm a complete Linux n00b myself.
as for redhat...i think i went over this before in the forum. boot from a floppy so it won't lockup, then tell it to boot from cd, it will install fine. then when you try to boot the first time, it will lock up hard.
what you have to do is edit the modules.conf line, and take out firewire line...and you also have to kill kudzu from your boot process so that it doesn't detect it at start up.
that's how i got it to work anyways...
If you want to see the thread itself, it's here: Someone complain about the latest kernel, please!
The board does allow guest posting so you don't to go through the bother of regging for yet another board if you have any more questions.
Apparently we aren't the only ones who have problems with the firewire loading messing up.