Thank you for your attention. I tried that in all 4 modes with the same result as the current stable version. I also let the laptop sit for 10 minutes after the CD stopped spinning in case there was some CPU activity which I was interrupting.
This is a 15" laptop with an AMD 64x2 CPU 2GB RAM and an ATI Radeon Express 1150 graphics card. This is neither particularly new, old or rare so it should be possible to get it working. The native display resolution is 1280x800x32@60Hz.
I am an experienced Linux server administrator but I have never had many problems with desktop booting so have not had to learn much about it. It seems that I should be able to edit the boot command line and get it to work but I have no idea what parameters to use.
The default video mode seems to be 788 (I don't know what that is). I have tried editing the boot command to give an invalid video code which then offers me a list of video modes. I have tried 323=1024x768x32 VESA and a few others which Widows display manage says the display supports. All of them result in different versions of the same theme of vertical lines. It seems to me that changing video modes only changes the terminal display and not X.
Thanks again for your time.
Do you know haw to specify 1280x800x32 at 60Hz for X?