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I am not familiar with that distro, but you might have a bad install (ie failed install, bad install cd disk, etc).
You could try re-installing.
But before you do that, can you try booting to a single user mode, ie non-Gui?
Yes h/w is hardware.
Some distro's allow you to install using generic video mode, eg specifying vesa video mode.
Or you can install text mode only then add the video driver and once that is working install X.
You say you installed Linux, so can you at least boot into text mode eg single user mode?
It may be your X / video driver that is the problem.
Booting into text mode should be simple, it maybe a choice at the boot menu, just select it using the <up> and <down> keys to select single user/console/command line/etc...
From there you can check your logs, loaded drivers, and X configuration.
I noticed that Scientific Linux v4.4 seems rather old, have you considered a newer version?