I fixed the problem of ethereal running as a user but not as root for myself.
As an FYI to Linux neophytes like me (who've been using Linux off and on for over a decade, and yet still don't know some of these things that probably should be simple):
strace ethereal 2>&1 | grep open | more
(you can download an IPK for strace if you don't have it here http://kozmikaze.com/tools/index.html)
showed that as zaurus it was using: /home/QtPalmtop/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0
but as root it was using: /usr/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0 which is actually /home/root/usr/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0
/home/QtPalmtop/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0 was 1514968 dated Jan 31 2004
/home/root/usr/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0 was 1438940 dated Apr 29 16:56
(anyone know why sometimes I get a year and sometimes a time? I'm sure it is, again, something simple that I never noticed before)
mv /home/root/usr/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0 /home/root/usr/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0OLD
cp /home/QtPalmtop/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0 /home/root/usr/lib/libgtk-1.2.so.0
and all is happy!
I feel like it is odd that as root one lib was used and as zaurus another was used.
I noticed that as zaurus LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/home/QtPalmtop/lib
however under root, the setting does not appear at all.
I tried adding this setting while being root, but it would not take, it just never showed up, at least not in qtX. Maybe I did the command wrong.
The copy worked, but I wonder why the oddness anyway.