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First time Ubuntu install, no hard drives listed?

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I'm trying to install Ubuntu on a pc but Ubuntu does not list any hard drives when I get to the partitioning section. I first tried to install on a secondary hard drive, the computer has four ide drives. With all four drives connected Ubuntu list all of them except the one I want to install on! So, as I've done in the past when installing different versions of Windows on separate hard drives, I disconnected all except the target drive from the system and made the target drive the primary. Bios confirms the 80 gig target is the only drive and it's the primary.
Next, I reboot the system from the Ubuntu cd and select Install Ubuntu. The language, time zone and keyboard selection all goes well. When it gets to Prepare Partitions there is nothing listed. The buttons at the bottom of the window, New Partition Table, Add, Change, Delete and Revert are all grayed. If I click next Ubuntu tells me there is no root file system defined.
This drive has been used as storage only so I bail out of the Ubuntu install and reformat the drive using an XP cd. Ubuntu still does not see the drive. Okay, I assume there is something wrong with the boot sector of the hard drive. As a test I do a full install of XP on the drive. XP installs fine, no problems at all. With XP now installed I try Ubuntu once again but Ubuntu still does not see the hard drive!
It seems the next logical step would probably be to just use one of the other hard drives. That option would be a last resort for me however as the remaining drives have a lot of data on them.

Any suggestions? Maybe even a better Linux OS. The PC is used as a TV PC only and I would really like to try a non-Windows OS on it.
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