Problem getting install CDs to work?

Hello everyone!
I'm a new member - I'll be attending the University of Waterloo in the fall.
My quick question is if anyone has ever had trouble getting CD images that you download [for various distros from Ubuntu to FreeBSD] to work properly? Personally, I've only ever had trouble on odd hardware, and I've always been able to get Fedora Core 3/4 to boot up just fine.

My father on the other hand, who wants to get away from MS Windows, has had some very bad luck and is getting very, very frustrated. It started with the DVD for OpenSuSe 10.0 that he got out of a Linux Format mag. The DVD boots, but then suddenly says that it cannot find a DVD in the drive. Then we tried the CD images available on the DVD - and they would freeze midway into the install process. Next, he retrieved the CDs from the Novell website, checked the MD5 sums, and still the same problem. My dad then thought that maybe Solaris 10 would work better - and while it installed without problems, it kept asking for the "Lang" disc that we had downloaded but that it wouldn't recognize. The he got the latest FreeBSD 6.1 release, and those CDs weren't able to read their own data from "acd0".
Mind you, he has been trying to to install all of this on HP dual Xeon 2GHz workstations, but I could still duplicate most of the problems using VMWare in Windows XP on my Athlon 64 3800+ X2 machine.

So my question is simply if anyone else has had frequent troubles with getting CDs that you download from the net to work correctly? As a budding Linux novice myself, my experience is limited, and with far less bad luck - so I would love to help my dad to "release himself from the evil clutches of the Redmond Giant".

We tried doing an installation over the internet [by using a boot cd, and the typing in a web address for HTTP or FTP download site] - but I've always found the documentation for doing this kind of install to be lacking, and thus we were unable to succeed.

Thank you for your replies!

DVDs, CDs, and hardware detection...

I noticed that you also stated that the DVD from the Linux mag didn't work. Often many of these install CDs have options like noacpi noapic that can solve lock-ups. Usually the options are listed if you press F3/F4/F5 when the DVD/CD first loads.

Also check if the DVD burner is on secondary slave. If it is, put it on master. It shouldn't make a difference, but at the shop I've found sometimes it does make a difference.

My last suggestion would be to try a Knoppix DVD (just to see if you can get it to run off live cd). I find Knoppix is pretty good with most hardware.

Sorry for the very late

Sorry for the very late (and probably unhelpful) response.

I see that you know how to check md5sums. Always verify those.

I have had other problems with downloaded ISOs, but that was often because I tried to boot or read CDs that were burned at a faster rate than the CD-ROM could read. This is not likely the case in your situation.

I highly recommend going with a network install if you have the bandwidth. I can't give you specific distro advice other than for Debian, but I have found that net installs are far more reliable than installing via CD.

LUG CD's and DVDs

The LUG does give out Linux CD's and DVDs. At the moment we only have FC4 on DVD and Ubuntu Breezy 64 bit & MAC version on CDs, but I've ordered 50 Ubuntu 6.06 CD's. (They probably will not be here until August or September).

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