Since the chance of getting any significant amount of work done before needing to leave for the meeting seems to be pretty close to nil, I've been working on the video-card problem. I rebuilt with the ~amd64 nvidia-glx and nvidia-kernel stuff from source, no change.
However, when I did a search of the drivers/*.so directory that X's log show it's using for loading modules, I discovered that the benighted nvidia_drv.o really was missing (just like the message was saying). Turns out that there's a directory /usr/lib64/xorg/modules . That's where the nvidia emerge is installing the driver file, but xorg is actually loading from /usr/X11R6/lib/modules
I linked the nvidia_drv.o into the drivers sub-directory, and that seemed to let xorg load and configure the driver properly (according to the log), but it left me with a blank grey screen (no ctrl-alt-backspace escape possible). There's nothing in the log to indicate a failure, it just seems that KDE isn't getting started.
Anyway, need to leave in about 20 minutes (it takes 3 hours door-to-door to get to ACI from here by transit). May play a little more with it, but having progressed to the driver actually loading I consider it a good morning's work (gads that's pitiful).
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