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Typing on debian as we speak, so far this is quick and yes very utilitarian.
Will be learning as I go, I do like the look of iceweasel again very agile. Firefox had a very layered affect and in my experience was subject to crashing.
Im off to explore, again thanks for some great advicwe and I will be back.
It's usually a good idea to post information on your hardware with a question like this. I've never used an emachine and I would imagine others are probably not familiar with its hardware either and are not likely to spend their time looking it up. You never indicated which Mint version you were trying to use. The only ones I am aware of that are still supported are Mint 13 and 17. Most major distributions such as Mint and Ubuntu have minimum hardware requirements listed on their site so you can check that and compare it to your hardware to see if it will work. Hopefully, your Debian install will be the answer.
The problem you reported with your Mint install was most likely due to the Nvidia Graphics card. Had the same situation when I installed Mint and Ubuntu and it was easily resolved by installing new drivers. The options are different in Ubunt/Mint and depending upon the Desktop environment. If you decide to install either in the future it should be an easy fix.