. . . Anyway, for the 4th time I was busy installing yet again from scratch when i decided... enough is enough. I quit the install and jumped online to find a Linux distro. . . .
Ahh, yesss! Those were the days! Must say I don't miss those days at all. I've reinstalled PCLinuxOS a grand total of twice in nearly 18 months---once due to a hdd crash, and once because I wanted to try out the LXDE version. Trouble-free it is, although the learning curve can be steep for a former non-Linux user. But you really will get out of it what you put into it. Have some patience learning and be proactive. Dig into these forums--there's a wealth of knowledge and help here.
Welcome and enjoy!