Ah yeah sorry - I'm so used to folk saying "DVD-ROM" when they mean burner. My mistake :o
Right...so, not reading anything at all.
As I asked, any emulation/virtual drive software installed, such as Alcohol or Daemon Tools, or MagicISO etc?
Any chance you can get a buddy or family member with a burner in their PC, to burn you a Linux Live CD? You can boot from this without installing anything on your PC.
There are several Linux Live Distros around, a few are gathered here.
Or, on the other hand...it might be a nice time to upgrade to a nice new DVD burner.