Now I've actually been here with a similar question before - but was largely inspecific because I didn't know what I was really looking for.
However, onto the question. I have a laptop that I've had for a number of years, and every time without fail that I've attempted to install a Linux distribution onto it, it's spat it right back at my face - instead opting to show a flashing underscore where GRUB should live.
A number of suggestions to try a bunch of different distros from Crunchbang to Elementary to Debian to Fedora popped up, but unfortunately none of them would boot.
Now - it's an older laptop (3-4 years) by UK company Novatech. The motherboard is developed by CLEVO Co., and it has an Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 (2.2GHz) with 4GB of RAM and an Nvidia G105M (which I initially thought was the issue).
When you run the LiveUSB/CD of the operating system, it works fine - no issues whatsoever. In fact, it's arguably more compatible out of the box than Windows is (some hardware functions that need drivers on Windows don't on Ubuntu).
So I took it down to the differing factors - and a big one was that the USB stick I'm reading off of is set to FAT file system, instead of ext4 (which I thought maybe could be an issue if the developers of the laptop didn't really take much care to support Linux operating systems), and also its a USB stick. It's not the hard drive. I guess that's a pretty big difference in itself.
Also, on older versions of Ubuntu, it would briefly after BIOS screen display a piece of text: "GRUB Loading...", and it's remain there instead of just the flashing underscore.
I guess my overall question is - can certain hard-drives not 'have' ext4 partitions? Or can some hard drives be incompatible with Linux/GRUB? Or is it my hardware, and if so - why does it run fine off the memory stick? Would this be solved if I somehow installed Linux onto an NTFS or FAT partition (if that's possible, I imagine it is, with Linux being Linux).
Anyway, hopefully I didn't kill too many of your sanities with the wall of text.
Thanks in advance :)