1. windows 8 doesn't like to give up control of the BIOS. Going to system settings and boot from USB key (which I'd already put Ubuntu's install image on via another box).
2. Once installed, it wanted to reboot. I did so.
3. VAST multi-day hassles due to black screen after boot, then prompting for user login: instead of going to the graphical user login page familiar to all Ubuntu users. I messed around for a long time trying various things. Running startx failed with a message about no screens. Trying to reboot with some setting for recovery mode got me success once, but I couldn't reproduce it.
The command to show all hw installed revealed the video chipset is AMD Radeon 8280. This appears to be the only laptop, or in fact any device whatsoever, that uses this chipset, though Ubuntu seems to think it's on some desktops somewhere (in their compatibility pages).
4. FINALLY, solved the problem. On my other laptop, navigated to find the download for AMD's proprietary driver, and found the download destination.
Logged into Ubuntu using the user created during installation. Did 'sudo ls' and reentered my password so I had sudo privs without prompting. Then, downloaded the AMD driver from the link on this page: http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/linux/Pages/radeon_linux.aspx
the download link was http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13-4-linux-x86.x86_64.zip, so I retyped it at the command prompt as:
$ wget http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13-4-linux-x86.x86_64.zip
and it downloaded. I
then did: unzip amd* and then did: chmod 755 amd* then agreed to everything and installed it, rebooted per instructions, and voila! IT WORKED!
So, the answer is that the fglrx drivers (automatically installed as part of the amd drivers download, methinks) are the correct solution here.
The touch screen does work , but is of limited usefulness since the icons are so small in a normal linux desktop screen, as they should be. After all , windows 8 sucks at trying to unite the phone with the desktop environment, because they're disparate platforms and everyone except Microsoft seems to know this.