you can only install once the live cd is up and running.
Right, that's what I thought.
I have never hit the F1 button at boot.
I always just hit the enter key.
My mistake: what I meant was, when presented with the initial choices ("Start Linux Mint", "Start Linux Mint in safe graphics mode", "Boot from first hard disk"), I picked the default option, i.e., "Start Linux Mint".
And again, it seems to work, because the kernel loads, I get some hardware messages (swap activation and checking filesystems ok) and I see the mouse pointer.
It's just that after that, the CD never stops spinning, and I never see any menus/installation options, etc.
have you tried the cd in another computer?
No, unfortunately, I don't have another machine in which I can try it.
The CD is good (the iso check matched, and the burn showed no errors), so would switching versions (Bea instead of Bianca, for example) make a difference?