CD/DVD rom drive not active - "Unable to mount cd drive"

I have an old Pentium III Gateway laptop from my college days that I have played around with Ubuntu on (started when Gutsy was released, so I am still relatively new).  I was trying to set this lappy up so I could leave the screen shut and set it behind my desk and VNC into it if I wanted to do something from our Windows desktop PC.  Network Manager, the default network interface that comes with Ubuntu was very cumbersome for this because it was unable to automatically turn on a wired connection after rebooting from an update or something like that (Since the laptop was placed out of the way, it was a bit of a chore to pull it out and turn the connection on and put it back).  So I looked around for an alternative and found some people mentioning WICD and said they liked it very much.  So I figured I would install it and see if it would help me out.  As I did so, it said it needed to uninstall Network Manager to put WICD in place (which I expected), so I allowed that and rebooted to see what WICD was like.  When Ubuntu came back up, no network manager program came up what so ever, I had to go in and turn WICD on manually.  The first couple of times I tried to do so however, WICD would freeze my entire laptop and I would have to hard reboot.  To make a long story short, I can not get WICD to work and not freeze up and Network Manager will not reinstall without downloading something from the internet first.  So I thought I could put the Ubuntu install CD in and it would get what it needed from there, but my DVD drive in unable to mount anything as it seems to not even by recognized at the moment...HELP