Well, if you've tried multiple OS'es (like you said that you tried XP as well...) and nothing will install, you most likely have a hardware issue. This is especially true when the PC does things like automatically restarting at odd points. If the restarting is not always at the same point, check your cooling systems. Sometimes your CPU will reset when it gets too hot. If heat is not an issue, or if the problem is always happening at the same time during the install, which is what this sounds like, you probably have some faulty hardware. One area which seems to have a lot of problems is your RAM. I have seen a system that had bad RAM that would run, but would not install any OS once I reformatted. One easy way to check this is to run Memtest86 (www.memtest86.com
) by downloading it on a PC that works and buring the *.iso to a CD (it's bootable). This test can take a good long while, though, so if you have some other RAM lying around that you *know* is good, you could always try swapping the RAM in there with good RAM and seeing what happens. If the RAM isn't the problem, then that opens it up to a whole lot of things, since it isn't as easy to troubleshoot other hardware issues.
When you say that the screen goes blank when you hit [Enter] on the install screen, which install screen are you talking about? If you're talking about where it says
and just hitting [Enter] just loads the generic VESA drivers, I suppose that Mandrake is trying to autodetect the driver and is doing it wrong, which would explain the black screen but not the reboot...
Anyways, this may be something to look into anyway. Try installing using console mode, without even using VGA mode. Console mode is supported by every video card for PC (at least I've never heard of anyway to get around supporting it, since the BIOS uses console mode). If that doesn't work, you could maybe see about getting a non-3Dfx card to try, but if the problem is with the driver, this solution will probably not even be needed.
If the video card is not the problem, the next possibilities would be, unfortunately, just about everything else. It's a long shot, but you might want to see about a BIOS update. If that doesn't work, you could perhaps have an IRQ conflict, but that's pretty unlikely, since most IRQ conflicts went away with automatic IRQ assigning by the BIOS, which happened not long after the first Pentium. So you might want to check this, and you also might want to check if auto IRQ selection is enabled in BIOS, as well.
The rest of the ideas are just long shots:
-- Your mobo might just be screwed up; this happened to me a few times before. If this is the case, there really isn't much you can do short of buying a new mobo, unfortunately.
-- You could also have some really weird conflict with PCI, ISA, or AGP cards. You could try booting with no PCI/AGP/ISA cards except for the video card
-- Going along with the conflict idea, you could have a conflict with another piece of onboard hardware (like onboard audio), or an input device, but both of these are very improbable
-- Maybe you could have a power supply problem, but this would make the lock happen at different times, so, again, very improbable.
-- Your hard drive could be really, really screwed up, but if it's not writing to disk while it hangs... that doesn't make much sense either.
Try to swap out hardware with hardware that you know works, if you can; that's usually one of the best ways to troubleshoot. Also, if you've tried everything short of swapping the CPU and mobo, the problem is most likely on the mobo, since if the CPU had fatal problems, it simply wouldn't turn on.
I hope that this helps...