I stuck another hard-drive in Debbietoo and installed Debian 5.0. Actually got it to boot-up enough times (2) to start configuring the desktop. Discovered that the video driver had the resolution set to 1600 x1050. Reset the resolution to 1280 x1024, the native resolution of the rebuilt LCD panel. Yes I'm running debbietoo, my household server, with a Gnome desktop. Its been handy more than once. Now X-server reports a "fatal" error on boot up and won't allow a GUI bootup. Thankfully the error message is self-referential. I tried another CD copy of the Debian 5.0 download, checked the checksums and re-installed. No dice, same issue.
Pulled the CD-R out of the drive and put a Ubuntu 9.04, Jay-Jay CDR in the CD drive. Ran the install. System comes up. Desktop logon works. Gnome starts without complaint. All the GUI tools seem to be working fine. System is setup with the new grub. It triple-boots without complaint. Now I can boot either into Debian 4.0 etch (2 kernel versions) or Ubuntu 9.04 without problems.
Winner and Desktop-weight Linux Champion of the world? Ubuntu 9.04!