I think I was able to resolve the problem myself. I edited the config.opts to this time exclude the IRQ's i knew were already taken, but no others. The log I posted earlier was when I excluded no IRQ's other than what was in the original config.opts. Before that, I had been told on various Linux on Inspiron 3500 websites that I should exclude all but IRQ 9. I tried that, with the same results as above. This time, I excluded all IRQ's <= 6, but none above that. Now no error occurred at boot, and a quick review of the log shows that it got farther than before, and actually did something with eth0. I don't know if everything is completely resolved yet, I have more webpages to look at, but thanks, David for the help...We shall see if I get this to work yet!
thanks again Peter