Re: secondary hard drive..
Connect the drive, install Gparted onto your Ubuntu, and then use Gparted to format the disk as ext3.
It will appear in your Places menu as a mountable disk, but you might find that your user doesn't have permission to write to it. If this happens, open a root file browser, find the disk's mount point in /media (it's usually /media/disk) and change the permissions so that "others" can read and write to it.
I try to treat the cause, not the symptom. I avoid the terminal in instructions, unless it's easier or necessary. My instructions will work within the Ubuntu system, instead of breaking or subverting it. Those are the three guarantees to the helpee.