OK. Tried Zaerc's suggestion and installed via CDs.
Kubuntu install went fine. Downloaded ISOs for 710 rc2 i386 version of linuxmce. Extracted the mce-installer and ran it. The setup detected the core and offered to setup a media director controlled by the core. It then appeared to run the diskless setup (which I was trying to avoid).
I googled for help and found this in the wiki:-
"Support disked MD was dropped completely in 0710"
Ouch! So I am left with a dual gigabit LAN m/board which makes a very attractive paperweight.
I will approach the manufacturers and request an enhanced LAN boot loader which actually disables the chip. Other than that maybe a soldering iron through the middle of one of the chips?
Thanks for the contributions guys! Might just have to take this one on the chin (goodbye £135 GBP).