Fedora won’t install either. It keeps crashing. Looks to me like there’s something broken inside the laptop; like a little piece of it has died.
Thought that it might be the hard disk that was dodgy, so I tried installing both Fedora and Ubuntu from one USB stick to another. No luck. Thought it might just be a Linux problem, so got hold of an IDE to USB adaptor and an old CD drive and tried installing SyllableOS (installer locks up), AROS (can’t install from a USB CD drive) and PC-BSD (complains about segmentation faults before shutting down). I did get FeatherLinux running from a USB stick by installing it via another PC. Success!
After opening the laptop up, I’ve discovered that the problem is either the laptop or the memory. The laptop has a 512MB stick of Kingston RAM, but the BIOS thinks it’s got 640MB to play with.
It’s both. Putting the RAM from the dead laptop into a working machine results in a non-working machine. The dead laptop reports RAM from the working machine as being double the real size and continues to crash when booted. Looks like I need to take it to the tip.