I suggest you use a 3rd party tool such as gparted to remove all partitions from the drive. Do not format the now blank drive and try running the setup again. Windows is dumb when it comes to non windows file systems and if you're on an OEM disk they can sometimes complain when you try to blast any existing installation.
Windows can format everything... from what I infer it should be retail as the emachine came with Linux as default.
Not quite true... If the set-up disk is OEM (and a lot of shops will sell you one with just RAM or a HDD) then the set-up expects a blank disk. You do not get the option to format the disk as they expect a blank OEM drive.
Yes, F6 may help, but I do second audiovoodoo's suggestion, wipe out the drive.
Boot from a Linux CD, open a terminal and type in
Caution: This will wipe the drive, you will lose all data on the drive
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda
Let it run for a few minutes, then you can CTRL C it.
Then try to install again.
I would suggest splitting your drive into 3 or 4 primary partitions, installing XP onto /dev/sda1 and then install Fedora 10, Ubuntu 8.10 or both on the other partitions.
You'll need to let it sit longer than a few minutes to really zero out a drive as the entire hard drive needs to be written to. A better way would be to tell dd to copy the capacity of the HDD to the disk to ensure it fills up the entire hard drive. Assume you have a 250 GB HDD:
dd bs=250GB if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda
You can also substitute /dev/urandom for /dev/zero to write random junk to the drive instead of zeros.
This works well too:
shred -n 1 /dev/sda
When shred finishes (it will take more than a few minutes), your drive will have random data written to it, obliterating everything on it. It works like the dd command above with /dev/urandom but is a bit more automated as it automatically writes the entire disk full of random data.
Interesting suggestions and a good way to clean a drive before passing it on if you recycle them to friends.
On the two occasions I did this just removing the partitions with Gparted worked fine. I didn't need to write anything to the device. Windows is dumb and as far as I recall only checked for the existence of partitions, it does not have the inclination to search a whole disk, just the MFT.
Two small issues that I had with this machine is 1st, change the hardware setting for the hard drive from AHCI to ide/sata. I don't recall which it is but, AHCI is to new of a device for XP. That is the BSOD problem. AHCI setting will work though, if you are using Vista. 2nd, get an XP-SP3 oem disk to use when you are loading. That's all. Wiping the drive and speacial commands in linux has nothing to do with the problem......goodluck!