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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
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Distribution: OpenSUSE 13.2 64bit-Gnome on ASUS U52F
Go to the Ubuntu web site (www.ubuntu.com). They have all the steps there, just click the get ubuntu now button and read along under the try it from a CD or USB stick. Question for you is your laptop capable to boot from USB? You will need that if your CD player is fried.
10.04 LTS is a long term support (therefore more stable perhaps)
Just my opinion, but you would be better off sticking with Debian. Much more reliable, and not a lot more difficult to run.
My opinion, too. If you want to do it the really easy peasy way, download Knoppix or Kanotix and start from there. Kanotix has the edge for HD installs, Knoppix as a recovery CD, both are bootable CDs.