Spent a hour or two tonight trying to get Ubuntu running on my laptop, unfortunately I ran into all the problems described here. The blank-screen experience was a little overly minimalist even for me. Tomorrow I’ll try going full-screen with VirtualBox, like some people in that thread had luck with, as a baby step to a full Linux switch.
So after starting the installation a few minutes ago, Ubuntu is up and running! I’m really more shocked than anything, I had already put 6-10 hours in getting Gentoo running and then it just wouldn’t work, probably something to do with my SCSI card. Ubuntu just worked. I’ve got a beautiful desktop running right now. I plugged in a USB mouse and it works with the scroll wheel. That might not seem trivial, and it is if you’re on Windows or a Mac, but my previous experiences with desktop (as opposed to server) Linux have been so awful, this is like heaven by comparison. And installation was so easy… Ubuntu is the WordPress of Linux distributions.