I was going to attempt an update and reconfigure but the Mandriva Control Center would not launch at all. I managed to update using the terminal but I still had no Configure Your Computer option. Difficult to configure without the tools.
So I had to inform my friend that his system was somehow hopelessly borked. The only solution in sight was Eric's "Big Hammer" approach.
Brought the computer box home and after backing up my friend's data I did a fresh install of Mageia 1.0 to replace Mandriva 2010.2. Then after updates and reinstall of his data and favorite apps I took the box back to my friend's house and set up his printer again. Total time about 5 hours. I was lucky that this older machine does have a DVD-ROM so the install went pretty fast from a DVD.
So my friend got an unintended upgrade and his sound is now working again. I suspect it was some sort of PulseAudio glitch or a botched update on his part that caused the whole mess.
Edited by raymac46, 06 April 2012 - 06:58 PM.