So as not leave this hanging, I finally gave up on the P4 and switched out my old gamer to be my work station and it's all working no issues, but oddly when I switched it over to the new case- switched everything MoBo, RAM, PSU- but it would not POST, so I took the RAM from the P4 machine and viola!!
Which is odd because I suspected the RAM might be the cause of the lock ups and the RAM that was in the gamer was pretty high quality and was confirmed working about two weeks ago, I still don't think 4 sticks went bad all at the same time but...
Anyhow, now I have an Asrock Dual 939 MoBo, AMD 64 3200+ CPU@ 2.0 GHz, 2 GB PC3200 RAM and an ATI X850XT PE GFX card and everything including sleep/suspend seems to be working flawlessly. I guess PCLOS just did not like the older hardware. Lesson learned: Even Linux works best on up-to-date hardware.
I may try to stitch a system together with the P4 chassis later with Windows and see if I can sell it off. Shame because on paper it seems like a well spec'd machine.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to lend advice, Happy Thanksgiving to those in the US.