Okay. So my WinXP install dies, and I figure I'll grab that linux disc I've had and try it. Turns out to be Ubunutu. Installs just fine, everything seems to work ok. Being a good little Windows lapdog, the first thing I do is check for updates. It turns out my disc was for GG and there is a new version available, so I tell it to go ahead and upgrade to HH.
Once the upgrade finished, my network wouldn't work anymore.
In both the GG LiveCD and full installation, the NICs (I have two, each attached to a different router) were configured in 'roaming mode'. Worked fine. My normal configuration is either static or DHCP - my IP addresses are reserved so either one typically works. However, after the upgrade every single packet on both NICs is being dropped.
Changing from 'roaming' to DHCP. No effect.
Changing from 'roaming' to static. No effect.
Manually changing network settings using ifconfig. No effect.
Manually changing network settings by modifying /etc/network/interfaces. No effect
Booting from a freshly burned HH LiveCD. Same as HH install: no effect.
Booting from the original GG LiveCD. Success.
So, I figured it was some bug from HH that I didn't feel like dealing with and told the GG LiveCD to do a fresh install ('guided', whole disk, /dev/hda).
It is here that I am damned.
Since then any attempt to install - whether it be GG or HH - has stalled at 94%. The bold text on the progress windows says 'Installing GRUB boot loader'. The small text says 'Running "update-grub"...'
Letting it sit for over 14 hours to see if it could just get over it. No effect.
Disabling all other hard drives in BIOS. No effect.
Physically disconnecting all other hard drives. No effect.
Using cfdisk to delete all partitions and dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1 to blow away the mbr. No effect.
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 6400 @ 2.13GHz
RAM: 4GB (about 3.2GB end up being available due to 32-bit memory address limitations)
Video: NVidia GeForce 8800 GTS
Audio: On board (NForce chipset)
Hard Drive capacity (of /dev/hda): 200GB (usable capacity: 182 GB).
So: what can I do? In either case, the install issue must be resolved. If someone can /also/ resolve the HH network issue, that's gravy. But to be honest, all I care about at this point is getting an OS installed.