I agree -- there should be an easier way to make boot disks for us who have old hardware (I'm running Slackware on a P133). But don't worry -- I'm not giving up on you until we find a way to make College Linux work!
It sounds like maybe your version of Windows isn't giving you proper permissions to make a boot disk with RawWrite (I guess?). So let's go with the second method, using XOSL.
Let's try this way of doing it:
BEFORE you do anything with the files you downloaded for XOSL, go to Windows Explorer or My Computer. Right-click on your A: drive (which contains an blank disk, right?) and choose Format... then check the box that says make a MS-DOS system disk. Click OK or Format or whatever it says. It will copy the very basic DOS system files to the disk, which will make it bootable.
Now you have a bootable disk. Now let's make it a real "boot disk" that can boot other operating systems.
Unzip your files from the XOSL directory (not the files from the Manual directory) within the XOSL .zip file to the floppy. Then reboot.
Your computer should boot from the floppy and give you an A:\> prompt.
Since you don't want the boot manager on your hard drive, but on your floppy, type
This will make your floppy boot right into your boot manager. If you get a "Bad command or file name" message, type "cd XOSL" (without the quotes) and then "sbminst -d 0" (again, without the quotes.)
Reboot again with the floppy still in the drive. With any luck, you'll get a boot menu that includes an option for booting from your CD-ROM drive.
If something isn't working, let me know and try to be as clear as possible about which step isn't working.