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It boots the Ubunutu Live CD just fine (including sound and NIC support).
So is the issue really the Ubuntu installer not working? If you are not completely oriented around Ubuntu then consider Gentoo. If the Gentoo LiveCD boots you can do the Gentoo install from a console and skip all the fancy stuff.
I cannot say how many times I had similar problems with Fedora installs not understanding hardware. Never had after 3+ years a Gentoo install fail yet.
mirror mirror on the wall, what is the distro to rule them all
I've tried a _lot of_ distros the past week, since I was convinced there exist distros simple enough that even my mom can install them. Unfortunately the simpler a distro, the more it tries to hide, such as boot messages. I tried Ubuntu, Suse, Knoppix, Ark Linux (rc2) and Mandriva and they all made it difficult to do troubleshooting. I needed ide=nodma boot option, but even with that I suspect my cdrom drive was flaky as a lot of installs would fail at random points. Eventually I decided to do the install myself and use Gentoo, since I've had good experience with it. I cached the install cd (docache) and proceeded with the install. I had to redo mke2fs of my partitions, because they failed the first time because of some strange dma error (even with ide=nodma). The good thing is that I was right there to see what was going wrong and fix it trivially. No automated installer does that (yet). I've also had very good experiences with knoppix in the past, but for some reason I couldn't get it to work even with ide=nodma this time. Oh well.
Well, I tried to install XP on the same 200gb drive, and configured it to only use a 50gb partition. It would not finish the install. So, my new 200gb hard drive just mighht be defective. I'm going to take it back to Best Buy for an exchange, and see if things don't work a little better.
I'll be back with an update later dtoday.
If nothing else, I'm tenacious (or if you could say I'm too stupid to quit).
Did you try using Ubuntu or any other distributions?
You seem to be having lots of bad luck, unfortunately.
I started with Ubunutu 6.06 (burned at 48x, 24x, and 8x), tried the Ubuntu Alternate CD, XUbuntu, 64-bit Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu 5.10, Knoppix, Suse 10.1, Debian, and finally Fedora Core 5. This means I've tried kernel versions from 2.6.13 through 2.6.17. I've tried two copies of the same motherboard with BIOS versions from 1.50 to 2.10, tried enabling and disabling various items in the BIOS, exchanged a harddrive, increased and decreased the amount of memory in the box, and even different CPUs.
I think you can say I've pretty much tried everything. Most of the time, the install process wouldn't complete, but if it did, the machine wouldn't boot.
I'm aware that other people have gotten Linux to run on this motherboard, but IMHO, it's generally incompatible.