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i tried to put ubuntu 12.04 lts on a clean hard drive and when i try to boot to the cd the splash screen hangs. i've tried it on 3 different computers (all with 1 GB of ram). 11.10 Worked fine.

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If you are trying to install Ubuntu rather than trying it,better to select the "Install Ubuntu" from the boot menu.It will help you do things better and fast. – beeju May 12 '12 at 18:03
Sounds like a bad CD. Try pressing some keys when the Accessibility icons appear at the bottom of the screen and select "Check CD for defects". – Jjed May 17 '12 at 2:24

When it is booting you can tap the escape key to show verbose output. If something is going wrong at this step, you can find out what it is at this step.

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