First attempts resulted in screen lock ups.
I guess I should have Read The Flippin' Release Notes.
If you are unable to boot Linux Mint with an NVIDIA card, or if you are experiencing constant freezes and system lock ups, please append "nomodeset" to your boot arguments. At the boot menu of the live DVD/USB, press Tab to edit the boot arguments and add "nomodeset" at the end of the line.Release Notes for Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon
Actually, you have to add "space" "nomodeset" to the end of the line:
-- nomodesetI missed out the space and thought it had worked because the install seemed to work. But, after a couple of hours, right near the end, the screen froze again.
Having corrected that piece of stupidity, the install completed. Very. Slowly.
Yes, the install process takes a long time on this computer. Pick up a copy of War and Peace to read in the meantime.
I have to say, Mint looks very good- better than a default XFCE install on Debian.
But the computer runs out of memory very quickly and grinds to a halt with more than one application running, or a background process like update open. (Default update period was set to 30 minutes- which meant the computer ground to a halt every 30 minutes.)
A bit surprising as I have an old laptop with a similar amount of memory (512MB) and a slower processor that runs several applications in Debian XFCE without struggling.
Mint (based on Ubuntu) seems to be heavier than Debian. The laptop was running Ubuntu until 2009, when it ground to a halt after an upgrade. It ran Debian OK, even with 256MB memory which it had at the time.
I have just ordered 512MB of (hopefully) compatible used memory from Ebay for the ridiculous price of £1.69, so with any luck, that will make the computer more usable.
If you are installing mint on an old computer, check out Ebay for a memory upgrade if you don't have the 1GB required for a "comfortable" experience as mentioned in the system requirements.
Pick up a (long) good book to read while it's installing, and enjoy a very good looking and easy-to-use Linux distribution at the end.