Installation Issue

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http://www.linuxforums.org – I have had problems with windows on my old laptop for a while, so my friend suggested I try Ubuntu. Which I am now trying to do My issue is confusing, at least for me. I downloaded Ubuntu and following directions burned it onto a disk, only to find that the disk drive on my laptop refuses to read any disks. I popped in a few other disks to confirm, it just wont read them. So I looked to the internet for help, and found the way to install Ubuntu via booting from a USB memory thingy, thumbdrive or whatever they are called. I downloaded the required programs and installed/burned/whatever it is called onto the thumbdrive. The directions then told me to boot up the computer from the thumbdrive as I would from a CD. This is where my issue comes from. I start the computer and did the F2 choose Boot thing and chose the option for my thumbdrive, but everytime I try to boot it up from that it refuses to do anything and just starts windows normally. What do I do? I know I'm not exactly explaining this very well, but if anyone can see if they can help me out, it would be much appreciated. (HowTos)