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kde goes back to login after "initializing peripherals"

I'm having problem on a machine which has been working well
until a week or so ago. Running FC5 updated from FC4 some months
ago. Machine is kept up to date via yum.

When logging in under kde - it spends a long time at "Initializing
peripherals" and then returns to the login screen.

If I init 3, login & startx - kde works fine

I can login in under gnome - no problem.

If I try and login as root in kde, I find that any subsequent attempt
to login in gnome has problems because / is read-only, which is
fixed with a mount -o remount

I've tried deleting everything in /tmp & renaming ~/.kde - doesn't
help. Nothing has been changed in the physical setup of this machine
in years.

I'd be grateful for any help/advice as I have no idea what to do

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