ron_jeremy wrote: It seems the problem is not related to the Plextors since many other people are having exactly the same problem with drives from other manufacturers.
I disagree there. I have been installing Linux on hundreds of older computers (for a charity) - many with old CDROM drives and have only ever had a handful of optical drive problems - always with a few distinct older LG and Plexor drives. I solved the LG drives problem with a firmware upgrade from the LG website.
Don't give up on Linux yet due to one hardware compatibility problem that is probably solvable. Just remember the compatibility problems experienced by MS Vista users. It is impossible with so many manufacturers, drivers, makes and models of hardware to not have some issues under ANY operating system. You're just unlucky with those specific drives.