I can only get an install to "stick" if I use shred to zerofill my drive first. Otherwise, when I install ubuntu or lubuntu 12.04, I will get "grub rescue: out of disk".

With the aforementioned (completely default) install on top of a zerofilled drive, then rebooting after installing updates will tell me there is no operating system. I don't even get to grub.

Installing on top of the failed install, while choosing "erase ubuntu 12.04 and reinstall", I get the grub rescue: out of disk error.

The hard drive has been repeatedly tested and does not have any read or write errors.

I've used check disk for errors on the pen drive I'm installing from and it comes up clean as well.

The system is an inspiron 6000, with 1gb ram and a 250 gb hard drive. I'm typing this from a live cd on the same machine.

What gives?