So, looking around, I cobbled together these instructions; I'm posting them hoping it might help out others in a similar situation:
1. Start out by grabbing the Ubuntu Alternate Install ISO disc and burning it to a CD. This provides a text-based install that will get us a running Ubuntu terminal from where we'll be able to install the graphics drivers to get the full-blown Ubuntu.
2. Install Ubuntu!
2. After you finish installation, you should now boot into text mode. If you don't force text mode, you will just get a black screen, or a garbled GUI.
You force text mode by: using the Grub menu (purple screen) that shows up when restarting your computer. Select Ubuntu from the menu, then hit the e key and add the word text to the end of that line. Once you do that, hit b to continue on to booting.
After booting completes, hit CTRL-ALT-F1, and log in using the username/password you gave during installation at the prompt.
3. Once you're logged in, fetch and install the proper drivers. I used some of the steps outlined in http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=106898 Of course you need a working Internet connection to do this.
Note: Last I checked, the ATI Catalyst driver version was 11.7; some of the following won't work if for some reason the driver version has changed.
Run the following commands one by one.
sudo apt-get install -y dkms cd ~; mkdir catalyst11.7; cd catalyst11.7 wget http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/ati-driver-installer-11-8-x86.x86_64.run chmod +x ati-driver-installer-11-8-x86.x86_64.run sudo sh ./ati-driver-installer-11-8-x86.x86_64.run --extract ati cd ati sudo ./ati-installer.sh 8.881 --buildpkg Ubuntu/natty cd .. rm -rf ati sudo dpkg -i fglrx*.deb sudo aticonfig --initial -f sudo aticonfig --input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf --tls=1
After running all of the above commands, you have to reboot:
Now, let the normal boot sequence start and lo an behold, graphics should now work! Yay!