Lenovo Z61T with mysterious CD problem

First off, I am not a computer expert. I have a Lenovo Z61T notebook that originally had 32 bit XP that I upgraded to 64 bit Windows Vista. I absolutely hated it, and Windows would not recognize that I had a CD drive at all (It is a removable modular drive.), and I couldn’t find 64 bit drivers. My brother recommended I try Linux. I tried Kubuntu (the CD drive works perfectly from boot.) I never knew what I was missing. It was great. Then occasionally the optical drive would not work at all. Sometimes it would make it half way through a movie, and peter out. Sometimes it would do strange things like open up the special features int the middle of the movie with no input from me. I tried probably close to a dozen different movie players and none of them made it any better. I tried to play movies in GNOME instead of KDE. I tried gstreamer and xine backends. I tried VLC, which seemed to work the best, but still not great. I tried to put OpenSuse on to see if Kubuntu was the problem, and not knowing how to set up two distros on the same machine the right way, I ended up with OpenSuse taking over my computer. Which is fine, I really like OpenSuse, but the problem still comes and goes.

I don’t know if the problem is software, drivers, or hardware related. Multiple operating systems and many different players didn’t solve the problem, and as I said earlier, the drive works perfect when you boot a disk from it. Linux definitely helped, OpenSuse maybe works better than Kubuntu did. Whatever the problem is, it’s way over my head. Something to note, I’ve only used 64 bit operating systems, could switching to 32 bit OpenSuse do anything? My laptop is currently the only way I have to watch DVD movies, and I would greatly appreciate any help I can get.

The fact that the problem is consistent in Windows and Linux, suggests this Optical Drive is ‘Jeffed’ or at the very least ‘Tetchy’.

a removable modular drive
This doesn’t mean much to me. Some detail might help.

The optical drive didn’t work at all in Windows. It half-ass works in Linux, but not enough to do anything with it. It is an Ultrabay port. It’s a Lenovo thing. The whole drive pops out with a button and can be replaced with a battery or a hard drive or I don’t know, a flashlight or something. How do I unjeff it?

In SUSE - if you go to Yast > Hardware > Hardware Information

See if you can find the pertinent information fr the device… and post it here

Suggestion: I had a similar issue of my (now aging) Samsung Q35. I suddenly had problems of burning DVDs and reading them. I did mount temporarily a hdd with Windows on it, in order to run the firmware update software of the producer of the drive. Effectively the drive now, with the new firmware installed, runs fine with Linux (and whatever else) again.
If your laptop is not so brand new, look at the download pages if for your model there is a firmware update for the CD/DVD drive. That may do wonders.
Good luck.

Ps. if you do not come across firmware before: it’s the piece of ROM burned software that contains compatibility information for the DVD/CD burner/reader in order to cope correctly with new types of DVD/CDs (or with minor productions differences). Bear in mind to be well plugged into the current and have a full battery, to do the update and that with every firmware and BIOS update there is a minor (although existing) risk of having a non functioning drive or PC, in case the update goes wrong for any reason.