This is a major issue (for me) that has been around since 8.04 and still exists in 9.04. It has happened repeatedly on different systems with different versions of Ubuntu. It is probably an installer bug or may be a grub bug. It has stopped me from adopting Ubuntu and continues to do so. I've found references to it by searching the internet but no solution.
1. Asus M2N-E motherboard. 2 GB RAM. Yada, yada, yada. Primary hard drive is a 120GB SATA with 3 primary partitions and 1 extended partition. The first three partition contain WinXP SP3, Ubuntu 9.04 and Mandriva 2009. The fourth is divided into Linux swap and a /home partition for Ubuntu. There are also 10x500 GB SATA drives connected to Syba cards on the PCI bus. This is an MDADM RAID5 array created with Mandriva.
The end result: Install fails with a grub installation failure. The live CD kicks out to the live desktop with an incomplete installation. The alternate install disk lets me finish the installation but does not install the grub boot block or menu.
Possible contributing issues:
1. The Ubuntu installer does not appear to correctly recognize the primary hard drive in the BIOS. (There are some other side effects but I will stick to the current issue.) Instead, it recognizes the SATA Syba connected drives first and assigns them as sd[a-j]. The primary drive is assigned sdk instead of sda. This may be an issue for grub if it is trying to install the boot block on sda. It also messes up the RAID array since it is defined to be on sd[b-k].
2. I've seen this problem before. The common factors appear to be multi-booting from the primary hard drive and the existence of two or more physical hard drives, one or more of which are on third party controllers, usually some sort of RAID.
3. The Ububtu installer does not recognize the MDADM RAID array. (Note that Mandriva does recogize the array and configures it during the install.)
What I am trying to accomplish:
1. Have the 120GB drive (recognized as primary by the BIOS) be installed as sda.
2. Have the 10 Syba connected drives installed as sd[b-k], as originally defined, and assembled as md0. (I can do the assemble manually after the installation.)
3. Get the grub boot block and menu installed correctly.
TIA for any help.