EDIT: I should mention that my mouse and keyboard are wireless devices. I assume that doesn't matter since a Live version of Windows 7 had no problems with it, and the most basic part of my system (BIOS?) allows me to use my peripherals no problem.
EDIT2: It turns out all of my devices work from my USB 3.0 ports, in case this helps anyone. I'll post as I find more.
My very, very novice understanding of Linux is that I need to create a bootable .iso with some software that allows me to boot into a no-changes-saved, low memory version of the desired OS that loads and operates purely off RAM, known as a "Live version." Only from there can I do a full install, maybe b/c Windows can't format storage partitions to the whimsical, wonderful, phantasmagorical "Ext 4" filesystem? Welp, I can't do ANYTHING b/c once I manage to boot my Live OS from either my flash drive or external HDD, my keyboard and mouse no longer respond. I have to cut the power to turn off the computer (which I'm sure is not great).
I've never used a Linux OS, but I've been trying to for the last week. No matter what bootable USB software I use to set up my device (Rufus, unetbootin, YUMI), I always run into the same problems, starting with a black screen. Monitors turned off automatically, receiving no signal once I got past the boot screen. Eventually I awkwardly found my way past the black screen problem via the "Grub" commands with Google results and found to either select "nomodeset" or edit whatever line of text ends with "splash --", inserting nomodeset in before the double-hash. My computer has an NVIDIA graphics card; I'm assuming that was the problem?
Either way, now I just cannot interact with these OS's without a keyboard or mouse, even though I can see their swell-looking desktops. I really thought these community-based OS's caught up to the big-company ones. Am I doing shit wrong? :(