Did you eventually find a solution for this? Have you got the latest version of K3B installed? Do you get any strange messages regarding USB if you run the dmesg command (try "dmesg | grep usb", for example)?
I'm probably way off the mark, but reading the Ubuntu forum threads, blogs and other forum threads scattered across the Internet regarding a Foxconn BIOS issue (SL thread viewtopic.php?f=3&t=14271
refers), I happened to notice one person commenting that if they turned ACPI off their DVD drive started to work:
But brings up another point, I set up a Lenovo laptop for a lady, but there is obviously a BIOS issue. One of two things happen, either it ignores the CD/DVD hardware or It won't suspend resume.
The two are mutually exculsive. I can enable ACPI, and I get suspend resume, but the OS in unable to see the CD/DVD harware, it's as if it doesn't exist. Or I can turn ACPI off, I get no suspend resume, and in fact I get no auto poweroff either, but the OS can see the CD /DVD hardware, and it mounts a CD or DVD fine. This has got to Faulty BIOS. The question this article raises for me is "is this deliberate?"
Now, I expect the optical drive in the lady's Lenovo laptop is ATA, ATAPI or whatever, i.e. not USB, but it might still be worth you trying to turn ACPI off to see what happens.
The internal optical drive on my Acer laptop appears to be USB-connected (diagnostics under Linux and Windows XP report it as a USB drive, and it runs slower than I would expect for an ATA or ATAPI device), so the following text from another Web site entitled "Various notes about Acer Travelmate 3004WTMi with Linux" (different model to mine) may also be apposite:
Boot with “pci=noacpi” or even “acpi=off”. You won’t have ACPI power saving, but the external Firewire DVD-drive and network will work. On at least installed system, “linux pci=noacpi” seems to be enough.
I'm probably barking up the wrong tree but, as you have not received any other replies, this is at least worth a try. It won't cost anything to try the noacpi or whatever boot cheat code (you can even try it first with the LiveDVD by pressing F5 at the boot prompt, if you want). See the SL Wiki for how to use boot cheat codes if you're not already familiar with doing this.
(By the way, this Foxconn story has highlighted ACPI support in firmware/software. Even if the guy who first raised this issue, one "Ryan", is wrong about Foxconn deliberately sabotaging a BIOS against Linux, it looks like there might now be some much-needed focus on improving ACPI support for Linux in some BIOSes and some Linux kernels.)