Hi Rachel -
I've been able to install BitCurator on the Linux partition of a dual-boot machine a couple of times over the years, most recently back in April 2021 (FWIW, I've also used these instructions to bootstrap a Hyper-V VM from Ubuntu --> BitCurator). I used the instructions found here: https://github.com/bitcurator/bitcurator-distro-salt
and a clean Ubuntu 18.04 instance. My notes aren't any more extensive than what's in the GitHub readme because, well, the process has worked for me, potentially with a couple of component installation errors. Nothing like what you've described.
Following the simple install instructions, I made sure Ubuntu was updated and git was installed:
> sudo apt-get update
> sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
> sudo apt install git
Cloned the distro-installeer:
And ran the installer script:
> cd bitcurator-distro-installer
> sudo ./install.sh -u <username>
(where <username> is replaced by an existing user)
The script ran for an hour or so, and the output to the console alerted me to any errors and I followed up on those by looking at the log in /var/log/bitcurator-install.log. Errors I encountered included the bootstrap script trying to install packages that were outdated or where the package maintainer had changed the installation process.
If you have time (always a precious commodity), I would try to bootstrap a Ubuntu VM into a BitCurator VM to see if you can reproduce the behavior you've experienced (you can always try it again on a native Ubuntu OS, too, but it's less stressful for me to test things on VMs first). Maybe that's what you did when you described installing BitCurator on a VM in your message...it's unclear to me whether you used the pre-built VirtualBox BitCurator VM
Sorry this isn't the most helpful advice; I'm curious if others have run into the issue you describe or not.