Update: this may no longer be necessary with newer kernels.
There is a major problem running Linux on HP laptops; during the boot process, the screen will go black and never display anything. This issue is due to the LCD backlighting.
You can fix the issue by appending the text
to the linux boot line. You can do this manually in the Grub menu by editing the commands before booting; you highlight the boot entry and press either the “e” key or the “tab” key, depending on the version of Grub you are running.