Warning: This is a one-off instruction taylor made for eigilw's computer with the present configuration. Do not use this dd command line for any other case, because you could easily overwrite valuable data. And there would be no way to recover it. dd is nick-named 'disk destroyer' because it does what you tell it to do, which might be different from what you think. And it asks no questions, even if it is a bad idea.
Your 2,5 inch IDE HD that stems from a satellite receiver is recognized as
eigil@ubuntu:~$ sudo fdisk -lu
Disk /dev/sdd: 137.4 GB, 137422175744 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 16707 cylinders, total 268402687 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000
Disk /dev/sdd doesn't contain a valid partition table
/dev/sdd (Nominal 160 GB, WD Scorpio Blue, IDE
and as long as you don't change anything (for example remove or re-connect or add any drive, it should remain there). But check with anyway! Identify the drive using its size.
I suggest that you use dd to overwrite it with zeros. After that gparted should be able to make a new partition table, one or more partitions and file systems (or swap) in those partitions. I think dd would stop with a write error, if there is something wrong with the drive.
It will take hours, and there will be no output until dd has overwritten the whole drive, unless you kick on it with the following kill command. Then it will print a few lines showing how much and how fast it has written. So if you want to know what is happening, run these commands from another terminal window.
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdd bs=4096
This command prints a line starting with the process ID of dd (a four digit number). Use that number in the following command (use your current number instead of 1234).
dd will print a few lines and continue until the whole drive is written.
sudo kill -USR1 1234
You might succeed if you overwrite only the first megabyte of the drive, which is done in an instant.
So try this and see if gparted will be happy to make a partition table
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdd bs=1024 count=1024
Device -- Make partition table
and then create partition(s) and file system(s)