I have a 60Gb drive in a Dell Latitude D600. It all started with trying to install 10.10 as a dual boot. First installation failed at the partitioning stage, next I tried manual partition that also failed. I finally went to Gparted LiveCD to see what I could do.
It allows me to shrink the NTFS, create a swap partition, create a partition in the remaining space. If however I try to format the empty partition as ext3 or ext4 it fails, the drive disappears from Gparted and I have to reboot. When I come back in, the blank space is there with no file system.
If I try to format the new partition in NTFS or Fat32 (as a test) it works fine and Windows can see it.
I even tried creating a FAT32 partition, doing and Ubuntu install to that disk, allocating almost all of it to Ubuntu (thinking I could use the small remainder as a shared disk), it started the install but failed after several minutes of copying with a warning about can not fsync (something) and something about RW problems.
(clarification because based on comments I thoroughly confused the issue, I didn't actually try to install to the FAT32, I just thought that it was odd that Gparted was successful in creating it, so kept the FAT32 which I thought was ok then let the installer shrink it and do whatever it wanted which was of course creating a ext4 beside the shrunken partition. This was an academic exercise since nothing was working anyway and thank all for pointing out my mistaken wording)
At this point I can't install Ubuntu because there seems to be now way to create a suitable partition.