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why won't this machine load XP or Ubuntu? Answered

Ok- so- my wife's computer was running slow / would not load programs/ acting generally funky.  I couldn't even run a virus scan- I pulled the hard drive and put it in an external case and reformatted it and reinstalled.  I then tried to reload windows XP pro-  it took LITERALLY  2 days of very slow running to load only part of the install files and then locked up.  I bought a new hard disk , installed and try loading window again- it only took a day to load this time but I can't adjust the video resolution.  I try loading Ubuntu using a live disk and it just won't read- I adjust the BIOS so I can load from a flash drive and it starts to load but takes about an hour to get anywhere and then the screen goes black and I cant get anything to come up.  So far I have tried TWO hard drives , booting from a CD, and booting from a flash drive.  Any one have any ideas about what is going on?

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