I don't think this has anything to do with booting from USB.
This machine fan just fine with 10.10 for years, though I had to do it with setmode turned off in the grub boot line.
But I just installed a new 1TB drive on the lappie (I'm a DJ and been chronically short of drive space for years), so I thought I would upgrade.
I've tried several 32 and 64 bit variants of ubuntu : ubuntu 12.10, lubuntu 12.10, mint 14 in both Cinnamon and MATE flavors.
To date all have have failed. Because Mint does its own thing with the ISO, starting Cinnamon in the compatibility mode show an error where it fails on the step "starting load fallback graphics devices".
So I believe the issue is with Xwindows.
Anyone got a clue for me?