I understand your frustration. I don't know if this will help, but I used the direct install method from a Linux hard drive throughout the VL6 beta cycle and it always worked easily and without errors. My CDRW/DVD drive is getting a bit flaky and I couldn't count on a CD booting, so rather than waste CDs for so many versions I just went ahead with the direct method. Here is what I did:
* Have the vinstall-iso file available. Mine is 4710 bytes, so it's a small file. It should be executable. Check the file attributes in DSL and make it executable if it isn't now. You may have to be root in order to make it executable; it depends on whether root or user owns the file. If this all sounds very geeky, it is, but file ownership and permissions are a basic part of Linux and at some point a user needs to accept that and learn how to manage them.
I manage ownership and permissions with Midnight Commander, but you should be able to do it with any file manager. You can also do it quite simply from the command line, but I can never remember the proper syntax, so I use Midnight Commander. The command to change ownership is chown. The command to change permissions is chmod. If you can't find a way to make the file executable through a DSL file manager, let us know and someone will give you the correct chmod command.
* Once you have vinstall-iso available and it's executable, create a directory called /vinstall. Use your file manager to do this. You can do it from a command line but as usual, I can't remember the sytax, so I use Midnight Commander. You can make this directory just about anywhere, including in your home directory (if you make a directory as user, you must have write permission for where you want to put it, and the only places user has write permission are the user's home directory and the /tmp directory).
* Move the VL6.0-STD-Gold.iso to the /vinstall directory. Be sure you did an md5sum on VL6.0 first. There is no point installing it if there are errors in the file. Be sure you note the path to the /vinstall directory.
* Make sure that /dev/hda2 is unmounted.
* You must install without X running. You can't install from a terminal prompt within the graphical interface. If DSL lets you exit the GUI to a pure console, do that. If it doesn't have a command for that, you should be able to type Control+Alt+F1 and you will be switched to a console login screen. Sign in as root. Then navigate to your /vinstall directory. From the command line, you type
substituting the actual path for /path/to/vinstall. Another way to get to a pure text console is to type this at a terminal prompt in your graphical interface:
Password: [type your root password]
This will restart Linux in text mode. Be sure you shut down your programs and save anything you want before you do the init 2 thing. After Linux restarts, become root and navigate to your /vinstall directory. Be sure /dev/hda2 is not mounted. The df command at a command line will show you what partitions are mounted.
* Now the fun part--
Once you're in the /vinstall directory as root and confirm that VL6.0-STD-Gold.iso is there, type this at the command line:
and hit Enter. The text mode installation should start. You won't need to repartition or resize your drive if you're happy with the size of /dev/hda2 as it is now. You can use your swap on /dev/hda1 (assuming it's already set as the swap file for DSL).
If you get the installation started with these steps, ask questions here if you run into any difficulties. If the screen goes black while you're installing, that's a screensaver kicking in. Just press the Shift or Control key and the screen picture will come back. Many people have been confused by this and think their computer has hung at that point. Be patient. Some of the installation steps take a long time, particularly on older hardware.
I hope I got all the details right, as I'm writing this from memory. It's easier to do than to describe, especially if you're familiar with file ownership and permissions.
I do want to comment on this:
Am I really being forced back to windows by the inadequacy of linux distros? As I am tolerably conversant with computer technology I would have to say there is simply no way any linux shows any sign of having any value for an ordinary user.
There is no "inadequacy of linux distros" here. Being unable to boot from a CD is most often due to a CD drive on the way to failure or media that doesn't get along with the drive and rarely some BIOS problem with the way an ISO is configured. CD drives are supposed to be the most common hardware to fail on computers, now that floppy drives have just about disappeared. The vast majority of Linux distros for the vast majority of users boot from CDs just fine.
As for linux having any value for an ordinary user, I'm an ordinary user and I use Linux to do almost everything I want to do with a computer: Web browsing, e-mail, playing music, watching videos, viewing, organizing, and editing photos, managing my music collection, word processing, page layout (Scribus), spreadsheets, presentations, running a few Windows programs under Wine. I don't do games, but there are plenty of games available for Linux and I hear that many Windows games can be made to run under Wine or other compatibility layers. Linux is not my hobby, it's my operating system. I don't have 6 Linux distros installed like some people do because as I said, Linux is not my hobby, it's what I use for what I want to get done.
I'm not a Windows hater by any means, but Linux does offer advantages over Windows. For one big thing, Linux is a more secure operating system and is not plagued with all the viruses and other malware targeted at Windows. Part of that is that Linux has a very small desktop marketshare at this time, but Linux has a more secure design and it's harder to infect a Linux machine. Another plus for Linux is that it is free in the money sense and most Linux software is also free of charge. I know that there is a lot of free software for Windows, too, but it won't be already installed when you first start your system and you'll have to hunt it out and install it on your own. You can download and use the free VL6 ISO on as many computers as you want. You can pay a modest price of under $30 US including postage for the VectorLinux 6 Deluxe CDs and install them on as many computers as you like. VectorLinux is also a savior of older hardware. The 1.3 GHz Celeron on which I'm writing this is pretty obsolete, but VL6 runs like a rocketship on it. In contrast, Windows XP, which is also on this machine, is much more leisurely.
I hope you are successful in installing VL so you can see for yourself the value Linux has for the ordinary user.