Thanks for such quick and full responses guys - what an encouraging introduction.
I think the problem may be to do with the video display, as jefro and tommcd suggest. I realised that the Ubuntu intro screen was actually loading but was just too dark! If there is any way of fixing this I'd love to know of it. I'm using Intel(R) Graphics Media Accelerator HD (core i3).
I ended up using Unetbootin to try out LinuxMint9 on LiveUSB (thanks rokytnji). It seems great! However, I can't get started because the wireless isn't working - Network Manager doesn't seem to find my home router (which I am using on Windows as I type this). I've had a look on the Linux Mint forums but can't find the answer.
So, if you have any suggestions on video display for Ubuntu or getting wireless to work I'd be really grateful. I've also replied more fully to your original suggestions below to check if there is anything else I could do.
Thanks for the pointer on backup, I had already done that. I'm pretty sure the USB boot was created successfully, but I had a bit of a fail trying to check the MD5SUM. I tried to do it (my first time using terminal
) following the instructions on 'help.ubuntu.com/community/HowToMD5SUM' but get told either 'the system cannot find the path specified' or 'cddownload-directory is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable programme or batchfile.'
I did find the option to test the disk but again the screen goes too dark after selecting this.
I burned an Ubuntu LiveCD , although not without trouble: the Windows 7 instructions on the 'BurningIsoHowTo' link didn't seem to work, as right-clicking was not giving me a 'Burn Disk image' option. I thought the problem might have been to do with NTI as the file was coming up as an 'NTI Iso'. I uninstalled NTI and redownloaded the file which was then changed to just a normal Iso. I ended up using InfraRecorder to create a LiveCD (at the slowest speed possible), 'verify disk after burning' was unavailable for some reason but from reading the How To I'm pretty sure it burned correctly (e.g. all files showing). Again, I had no problems in selecting it to boot but again the screen was too dark (although I did get the drums sound this time!).
So yeah this is probably pretty basic stuff but if you can help me get the wireless working or change the display so I can see Ubuntu you'd make me very happy!