I've just read this through and I can almost feel how you feel dummy - but don't feel like one. Linux and Windows are different and the road forward is different in each.
A few points
When you have the md5sum computed from your download compare it to what you find on the download page or sometimes in a document also downloaded. This is to check the integrity of the download - you don't do that often in Windows.
Your CD is probably OK but the burn speed to use is always the slowest possible - I always use 2x
You could use the advice in the howto in the wiki:
http://www.linuxmint.com/wiki/index.php ... ur_Live_CD
However sometimes you end up in a "busy box" if you do that and then you have no use for the solution there.
In the livecd sudo does not work as later, because you have not set a password yet
But if you end up at "mint@mint:~$" this is a good starting point.
Write the following commands
chroot /root nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf Note: there has to be a space between chroot and /root and also spaces between /root and nano as well as between nano and /etc. Please note that the X in X11 must be a major X
This will let you edit your graphics configuration file. Using the arrow keys scroll down to the heading called "Device". Under this it should have "Driver" to the left and beside it the driver in inverted commas, like so:
Identifier "NVIDIA Corporation NV43 [GeForce 6600 GT]"
You have another card of course
Change driver to "vesa"
Once you've done this press Ctrl+x then y then enter to exit the text editor
This will bring you back to the command line, simply type:
And off you go...
Note - it must be exit!
Anything else will make you continue to be root and that's no good.
I hope this will do it