I rethought my strategy and re-installed Ubuntu. My issue was getting the video to work properly – the fix required a change to the /etc/X11/xorg.conf. But unlike the other distributions that I tired installing (SuSE, Mandriva, Fedora, etc.) when you run the install for Ubuntu you don’t set a separate password for root. After some searching on the internet I found out that this was by design. I figured out how to get root access to make the changes I needed to and was able to get the GNOME desktop working. Then after more configs I brought up the wireless network card – how cool! I then proceeded to configure an email client to download my gmail from Google, which also now works.
Having a good evening!