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I installed MDK 9.1 (again...) this morning and i looked for what you were talking about. I saw it, (surprise...) right before it loads the installer into your ram. Your CD-rom works well enough in normal operation? It doesn't make sense that it stops working when you try to load mandrake from it. Sorry this is beyond my technical knowledge.
When you start your boot sequence, the first page (where you F1 or delete - or whatever) to access the bios, it normally has a list of pieces of kit i.e. primary master (often the hard drive and gives details of the HDD) primary slave (in my case I think it's the cdrw) secondary master (my dvd) secondary slave not used.
If you then F1/delete/whatever to look at the bios, It should then give the order in which it looks for boot devices i.e. a/b/c/d/etc etc that should translate to floppy/harddrive/cdrw/dvd - except whatever order you tell it (that's if you have changed it otherwise it will tell you the default - what it was set on from the manufacturer).
You say that you did the checksum to make sure you downloaded disc's are OK, so maybe you should just try and change the bios so it looks at your cdrom/cdrw device first. Then (well, in theory) provided the disc's are ok, it SHOULD boot from the first disc.
IF, you get it started, just accept the default's, for the partition bit, if you have any free space on your hdd, select that to install the mandrake - if not, tell it to resize the windows partition (I haven't had to do this as I already had space free'd up) I think it should give you instructions to follow.
also, presuming that you have a windows disc, then try the nodma thing. If the system did f**k up, then the worst case scenario would be re-install windows first - all you have wasted then is time.
Sorry If you already tried this - I only know the basic things to try.