After fighting these new servers for two days straight, I finally found out the problem.... firmware on motherboard is a couple months too old for the new drivers in Linux that aren't backwards compatible.
Somebody should die.
So, this is 2002 and we're still using floppies and DOS to upgrade firmware. I put the floppy in...
"Windows 95 wird gestartet."
Just what I needed... a little Microsoft and a little German to make my sysadmin hell night a little better.
And even better... the keyboard map loaded is German too, so to answer "Continue? (Y/N)" in the English AMIFLASH utility, I have to know that "Z" is really "Y". (good thing I went to German internet cafes....)