After 8 years my office desktop PC died.
I am using the living room media center as a temporary replacement.
After moving my hard drives, the replacement system booted fine. This is standard fare with Linux systems. Linux is not picky about its hardware and unlike Windows, there is no activation nonsense tied to the hardware. There were some nominal tweaks, such as deleting /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules and rebooting.
Then I tried to start X.
I spent about an hour fiddling and cussing. Then I remembered that this particular ASUS M3N78-EM main board needs a special kernel boot parameter to allow the proprietary Nvidia drivers to function. I believe the problem is related to the Hauppauge HVR-1600 TV capture card.
After adding that parameter I started X with no problem.
The boot parameter seems to be needed only with 32-bit systems. That I am using a 32-bit system is hardly news shattering because I built the office system 8 years ago. I will watch whenever I update the system to 64-bit whether the boot parameter requirement remains.
I would like to dispense with using the proprietary Nvidia drivers as I do not use any demanding software such as gaming or CAD. Testing the Nouveau drivers is something I can do without updating to 64-bit.
I do not know whether I can run a media center using software such as XBMC (Kodi) without the proprietary Nvidia drivers. I am thinking I will avoid this hassle by obtaining a new system using INtel graphics.
This boot parameter requirement is classic WTF fodder. Does anybody really expect non technical users to resolve obtuse usability issues like this?