In your first post, you said: "Finally checked the workaround for truecrypt for my work machine." Has truecrypt been applied to the drives you are trying to install to?
You also said, "This morning when I tried to download the latest ISO, I got an error message about not having permission with ibiblio.org.... I went to my repository instead (one of the indiana.edu ones... I'm home in the middle of trying to get to a graduation ceremony....) and downloaded 2010.1 ISO." I'm trying to understand the "not having permission with ibiblio.org" issue. Do you mean you could not download the iso due to inability to access ibiblio's site?
And you said, "My KDE 3.5 system works fine." Are you booting KDE3.5 from one of the questionable drives or are you booting KDE 3.5 from a liveCD?
I have a mobo with nVidia disk controller onboard. Different model than yours, though. Mine is a MCP61. Like yours, the controller handles both IDE and SATA. In PCC, the SATA module for the controller shows as sata_nv. The IDE module for the controller shows as pata_amd.
Since fdisk isn't working for you, can you give us a summary of your hard drives? Only concerned with the internal drives, as I assume those are the ones you want to install to. Can you give a summary of partitions on them, filesystems and operating systems used, and any drive encryption used, or anything else out of the ordinary?
I've been wrong before, but I don't believe this is a controller issue. I think it is more specific to the drives themselves.