Hello and welcome to Linux Questions.
In order to install Linux you will need to burn the iso image you download onto the cd. I do not understand what you mean when you say a non bootable cd, all are non bootable untill you use your burning software to create the boot disk. So the steps are
1. Partition hard drive. (Search LQ for how to's)
2. Download Linux distro of choice ISO image.
3. Burn image onto CD rom.
4. Insert cdrom into computer and make sure to set boot priority to CD rom first in BIOS.
Thats the short of it, hope that helps.