+ nVidia …. I think it is working …

Only took this …

sh ~root/NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-177.80-pkg2.run --kernel-output-path=/lib/modules/ -k --no-runlevel-check --kernel-module-only --no-x-check

and some tweaking of the installed kernel source (strange, it wasn’t ‘make prepare’ ed already)
[update] nope … but I understand the cause. The build machine has a different compiler than the target machine. As a result, the compiler on the target machine generates subtly different kernel modules than that of the build machine. And they disagree on the version of struct_module. The kernel module is not insertable.

This troubles me a little, but I guess it shouldn’t. The target machine has gcc-4.2.4 and the build machine has gcc-4.2.3, now being updated. Luckily our kernel build environment is nothing more than a make file that drives patch, make, and other things. So relocating it to a machine with the right compilers is not hard. Just annoying.
We have an 8-core machine in the office which should be used for builds. I’ll make sure we can boot this one diskless through Tiburon, and then use whatever distro we need to do the kernel build bits. It may have been naive of me to think I could build a kernel and modules on a build machine without worrying over details … like compiler/library versions.
[update 2] I must be in a state of depressed caffeine today. Rebuild still didn’t work. Will revisit later. Have other work to do more pressing than this.