TaintedTux wrote: A solution to make your old laptop run a bit smoother might be to use a more lightweight distro
Ubuntu with all the bloat thrown over board is actually quite smooth
You see, the problem with that stupid laptop is that it does not have a built-in CD-ROM or floppy drive to boot from; and it only has one USB 1.1 connector which I have to use for the USB-to-Ethernet network adapter. Instead I have to use an external CD-ROM drive which connects via a proprietary PCMCIA-card. And there are only very very few distros that can handle this thing and see it as "disk controller" and don't get confused the moment the PCMCIA services get loaded during boot time. Some distros can be forced to use this PCMCIA CD-ROM drive by adding a few parameters to the kernel boot line (ide2=0x180,0x386) and by forcing PCMCIA services to remain off (pcmcia=off ... or 'nopcmcia' on some distros); but even then: Most distros get very confused by this setup and will hang during boot time; usually with an error message that they can't find the CD-ROM drive any longer.
So far the only distros that can successfully be installed on this Laptop are SUSE (from version 9.0 onwards; OpenSUSE 10.2 installs without problems but is just such a mega-bloat on this slow laptop!) and most Debian-based distros that have a text installer (e.g. Ubuntu alternate, Debian 4.0 "Etch", some others). The only distro that will install in GUI mode on this thing is "Xandros" ... But "Xandros" is such a weird distro and reminds me too much of Windows ... so no thanks, I can't use that.
So as you see I'm quite limited with my choice of Linux distros on that particular laptop. Ubuntu's alternate disk works great ... it's just that after the installation finishes I have to throw lots of things over board.
As for GUI ... I use "Blackbox" here on this laptop. "Blackbox" small and very very fast, but still somewhat "friendly" enough to be usable.