I've had this problem for almost a year now that has rendered my laptop into a brick. No one has been able to solve it. I just bought a new hard drive, so I decided to try again. I still have no luck. I created an Ubuntu live USB for 12.04 using the Universal USB installer on my windows machine. I then used it on the laptop. I boot up and choose the install to hard drive option. After a bunch of text and splash screens. I get the "general error mounting filesystems" error. This isn't a one off thing either.
I've tried this with multiple distros and live usb creators, so I'm sure it is not the live usb itself. I can't even use the "Try ubuntu" option. I can't even install windows on it although that may be because the disk has been used before. One thing that does work though, I can boot using knoppix.
So it seems to be a problem with mounting kernels to the filesystem that has nothing to do with the hard drive, the usb, or even the distro itself. I'm about to give up and conclude that my Thinkpad X61 was made with hardware that doesn't cooperate with linux kernels made past 2010.
I'm pretty positive the laptop is not damaged. Has this ever happened to anyone else and can you help me out?