Solution For My Case, Maybe Yours
I found this article in my searches for DAC960 Compaq Smart Array media error resolution. In this case, I was trying to install Mandrake 10.1, but everything after 9.0 was failing. To resolve the issue, I used rawwritewin.exe to write one of the alternative images to floppy (in this case "cdrom.img-2.4.27-0.pre2.1mdkBOOT"). That way, I'm loading with an older kernel that knew what my DAC960 was.
I then experienced a problem when it was trying to initialize /dev/ram3 with the CD contents. At "boot:" I had to specify "linux root=/dev/ram3 ramdisk_size=32000 ide=nodma". In 10.1, "root=/dev/ram3" is already in their cmd line options, so I didn't need it. After all that, I was able to install.