Problems installing any distro of Linux -- possible hardware issue?
I think the subject speaks for itself, so let me get right down to the details. First, the hardware:
Motherboard: Asus A8N-SLI Premium nForce 4 SLI
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400
RAM: 2 GB OCZ DDR400
Videocard: BFG GeForce 7800 GT 256MB
HDD: Maxtor DiamondMax 10 6L200S0
Optical Drive: Lite-On 16x DVD+/-R Burner Model SOHW-16935
NIC: Linksys WMP54G v4.1
Now, here's the issue. I'm fairly new to Linux, but I have installed various distros on other computers without problems, so for the most part, I know what I'm doing. The computer listed above I've had sitting around for quite some time and I want to turn into a "full-time" Linux machine. I had OpenSuse 11.3 64-bit installed (had some problems with it, which I'll come back to later), but I didn't like it so I wanted to install something else. I decided to go ahead with Ubuntu 10.10 32-bit.
After downloading and burning to a CD-R, I popped the disc into the computer, changed my settings in the BIOS, and let it boot up from the CD. I get the initial "Ubuntu loading screen" (the screen with 'Ubuntu' in the middle of the screen and the 5 progress dots below it). It loads for a few seconds, and then the screen just freezes. What's unusual is the screen has a grey, striped, static look to it. Even if it hasn't frozen up, I can't see any options to continue from there. I tried rebooting several times, and I get the same screen. So I thought maybe my download was corrupt, or maybe the CD-R was bad. In short, I've re-downloaded the ISO, I've re-burned it on both CD-Rs and CD-RWs, and using Universal USB Installer, I've even used a USB to try to boot from. All combinations I've tried, I get the same screen.
After a while, I decided to try other distros. I get the same exact results with Mint 10 32-bit and Fedora 13 32-bit. It boots, I get the initial loading screen, and then a grey, striped, static looking screen instead of giving me any installation options.
On top of that, just to make sure (again) that it wasn't a bad download or burned CD, I tried the Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mint CDs I had burned, as well as the USB copy, on two newer computers I have lying around. Both of those boot up just fine and bring me to the installation screen.
Now, as promised, some issues with OpenSuse 11.3, that may be related. After successfully installing that distro on the machine, anytime I would allow it to start up as normal, it would give me the same grey, striped, static looking screen instead of the welcome/log-in screen. The only time I could get it to start up without problems was if I selected the "Failsafe" option at startup.
So in short, unless there's something I'm missing, I'm dead convinced that some piece of hardware (the graphics card?) is causing these problems. I've looked up the compatibility of all my hardware with Linux, and aside from my NIC being a pain to configure with some distros (I'm well aware of that), I can't seem to find any connection to the problems I'm experiencing and my hardware. Again, what makes it more frustrating is that I'm unable to even get to an installation screen -- if I could get to that screen, then I know that I could possibly choose a different installation method, but I'm not even given that option.
If anyone sees anything that I'm missing, please let me know. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!