But things weren't so simple.
Put me Ubuntu "Hardy Heron" disk in and booted np, took forever though to come up with the GUI, which only part loaded. Did it all again, this time the GUI came up but was as slow as a dog with no legs, hardly anything responded, and eventually I just turned the thing off and started again. No joy, appalling performance. Checked Ubuntu's sysreqs and it should be ok. So i tried another older version of Ubuntu, and that was the same, partitioned the hdd and tried Red Hat, then SUSE, nowt happened at all after boot for either.
I wanted to see if it was hardware so I booted to a PE environment and all seemed ok. Booted again with a Knoppix disk, wouldn't load (and Knoppix has never failed to load up for me in some form on any other kit!)
Was getting brassed off now so in frustration and to prove I wasn't going gaga, I shoved W2K - loaded perfectly, but missing lots of hardware and the drivers off Dell's support site mostly didn't work. So as a last gasp I stuck XP Pro back on... and it went on perfectly, found every piece of hardware no matter how obscure, and runs like a dream.
I just don't get it. Is it because of the weird hardware that's often to be found in laptops that Vindoze has support for and Linux distros don't? But Dell laptops normally love Ubuntu and work really well with it. My Toshiba Satellite Pro laptop runs Linux dual-boot with XP perfectly, so what's the crack with this?
(I'm not that bothered if it has to be XP on it, 'tis just a spare, my *proper* spare has been bequeathed to Child A for uni, as she totalled the new laptop I gave her a week ago with a bottle of coke into the keyboard.)