I have an old laptop that I use for 'experimental' purposes. When I say old, that is all relative really, some people would consider it fairly well equipped, dual core processor, 2Gb ddr ram, ati graphics card, intel wifi, vintage 2006. But I tell you it can be a real pig to use at times and it particularly dislikes Linux Mint. The last version of Mint that I was able to install on it was Mint 8. I have tried 9, 10, 11,12 and LMDE and it laughs at all of them. I decided it was time I tried again, this is the story of what happened.
EDIT. At this point I should say that I originally wrote this topic for the chat section, but it was suggested that it contains ideas that may be useful for others with similar problems so it got 'upgraded' if you will, to a sort of how to, but because it was written as a 'chat' piece, I first deal with all the things that 'failed' to install Mint for me. If you want to skip reading those, the procedure that succeeded is highlighted in green towards the bottom, so you can just read that if you want to. However, just because something didn't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for you, so if the green section doesn't work try some of the other ideas instead.
Firstly I installed Ubuntu 11.10 because I wanted to check out a multi boot scenario. I popped in a disk, booted up and about 15 minutes later I was in Ubuntu. This proves three things. Ubuntu is VERY easy to install, it boots up remarkably quickly compared to my glacial LMDE64 (6 months old), and I could easily live with Unity if I had to!
The next step was the Mint 12 live dvd from a magazine cover disc. Popped this in the tray, rebooted, it printed one line of text and stopped for good, this is typical of what happened with every other version of Mint I have tried to install. End of attempt 1.
Last time I tried installing Mint I didn't have an external cd/dvd drive, but now I do, so I plugged this in, put in the disk, rebooted, went into the bios to make sure the device was detected (it was) and moved it to the top of the boot order. Continued to boot, it whirred and chugged for a few seconds then booted straight into Ubuntu. End of attempt 2.
I now reasoned that maybe there was something wrong with my dvd drive/drives, so I embarked on another plan. I used the 'dd' command to copy the cover disk dvd to an iso file.
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dd if=/dev/sr0 of=mint12.iso
Worked for me but this assumes that /dev/sr0 is your cdrom drive (it probably is unless you have more than one), and you want to save the iso file to your home folder (which is where you terminal will open anyway).
I then direct booted the iso file with Unetbootin ( instructions here - viewtopic.php?f=42&t=94347&p=540600#p540600 ). It worked! I pressed the install button and the install began. It stopped after just a few seconds because it complained that my cdrom drive could not be unmounted (probably something to do with the way Unetbootin frugal install works). Anyway, that was the end of attempt 3.
My next trick was to try a Mint 12 disk that I had made myself a few weeks ago. Surprisingly this one booted (which means there is nothing wrong with my dvd drive). So I hit the install button, and nothing happened. I went into the menu and hit install, nothing happened. I went into the desktop folder and hit the install button, nothing happened. I opened a terminal and ran /usr/bin/ubiquity, all I got was 'input/output error'. End of attempt 4.
I then tried my own dvd in the external drive. It completely ignored it and booted straight into Ubuntu. End of attempt 5.
Next came my LMDE cd. This took me back to attempt 1 - printed one line then hung. End of attempt 6.
Next came a fresh download of the iso which I burnt onto a cd-rw. I tried this from the internal and external drives and it was completely ignored on both occasions, booting straight into Ubuntu. End of attempts 7 and 8.
I then used Unetbootin to copy the new iso file onto a usbkey. Booted with that plugged in, went into the bios to check that it is listed - it isn't. Carry on with the boot, predictably, straight into Ubuntu. End of attempt 9.
My next strategy was to boot with a Plop boot cd in my cd drive ( http://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager/index.html ) and the usbkey in a usb slot. It booted Plop as expected, I used this to transfer the boot to usb and what do you know, it started! Not only that but it installed as well. So success with attempt number 10.
All of this took me about 4 hours of trying, a fair bit of knowledge and a fair bit of equipment. How many Linux newbies are going to have all those resources available?
So next time you read a newbie report that says 'I can't install Linux Mint', think about this post, because sometimes I can't install it either!
I should say that continuing my experiment with that laptop, I went on to install, Fedora, Pclinux, Debian, and even Bodhi Linux onto it (not all at the same time), at no time did any of these installs give me slightest difficulty, so it is nothing to do with my equipment or my discs. So I guess the question should be what did Mint do to their iso's after Mint 8 that makes them so impossible to use on this machine?