Let me see if I can clear up the md5 questions a little bit. The .iso download is one huge file. If you're on a Windows PC you can Explore the .iso and see what I mean. One honkin' file means one md5 will be generated. That's why you can go back to your download site, look for the md5, and compare the two very easily. You can do it by hand if you want by carefully writing down the md5 from the website, then using a Windows-based md5 utility to generate an md5 checksum from your download, then comparing the two.
It's a whole different story once you've converted the .iso into a bootable CD. Now you have hundreds of files, and hundreds of md5 checksums.
There are parts of this that I don't understand, because I've run CD's thru md5Summer and gotten a few dozen md5's, not hundreds. Maybe Summer makes one md5 for each folder, I don't know. But it can be used to check CD's. Here's how.
I believe the simplest solution is to get ahold of a known-good CD. Ask your utility to scan that CD and create md5's. I imagine it's the same with any popular utility, but the only one I'm familiar with is Summer. You can ask Summer to save the results as a text file. Then you can scan a second CD and ask Summer to verify, not create, md5's. It'll ask you which numbers to verify against, you point it to the previously created file, and it'll compare the md5's from the second CD against the md5's generated from the first CD.
It would be a simple thing for a couple of folks to coordinate their efforts via this forum. One, who has a known-good CD, can generate the text file of md5's from a CD, then attach it to a post. Anyone else can then borrow that list and use it to compare the md5's generated from their CD's. You might have to use the same md5 utility, I don't know about that. I don't have a copy of Bea yet, but if I did I'd be happy to run it thru Summer and post the results. I'll have a copy in a few days and will check back here.