Well, after deducing that the problem was ontrack, and taking home my 4 gig drive, the next few stages were reasonably straight foward. format drive, copy files on, plug drive into other machine, copy files off. Easy. I didn't have a floppy, but was fortuantely able to clear down the partitions and wipe the MBR on the 8 gig drive using my windows 98 cd ( The Windows 95 cd refused to boot off the cd ).
Fine and dandy. I put in the first debian cd, and it starts installing - the process seems straight foward, the only bit that could have been documented slightly clearer was creating the swap partition, but it didn't take a great deal of effort to resolve.
Then it come to network configeration, and it was time to move the machine closer to the router ( I went wireless a while ago, but this machine is going to be using a cat 5, and live near the router ). So, post move, I tell it to configure the network for DHCP - which it does fine, before going onto the next part of the install process, which tells me there is a corruption in the file. I give the cd a clean which allows it to progress a little further, but it now reports another file as being corrupt. So, I burn another cd ( the computer with the burner is in a different room, so a little moving of equipment is necessary ), and after a few failed simulations and reboots have another copy of the debian install CD.
This cd has the same corruption on it, so I'm not sure if its the download, or a problem with the drive its self. I'll try another cd rom tonight.