Why can't you use Mandrake 9.2 with LG optical drives?
I agree; Mandrake is a good version of Linux. I've used it, and it's very easy to install. The only thing I know of that's not good is that it runs pretty slowly on my two Celeron 366MHz machines (but it runs fine on my Athlon 1.2GHz.
If you want to experiment a little bit with Linux before actually installing it, give Knoppix a try. It runs entirely off of the CD; you just boot off of the CD and there it is; no installation or hard drive modification. It's a great way to try out Linux. It also has many apps that are "pre-installed", so you can do a lot with it.
You can get both of these versions of Linux (among many others) at http://www.linuxiso.org