I just thought I'd document the main features of this in case anyone wants to travel the same route.
First if all, it is possible to install on 512MB RAM, bit I really don't recommend it., The total install took 5 hours and the end result is SLOW.... its essentially a slow booting 'one app at a time' result. Well the 'one app at a time' for me is reading E-books, so its OKish. BUT I will put more RAM in soon.
Hardware is NOT automatically handled. And it took me several restarts to get the thing going. You must not let the boot screen time out and launch the full mint live DVD - hit returnand select compatibility mode. That's side steps issues with the Broadcom wifi stuff. Don't even think of doing it without an Ethernet cable and an internet connection either.
Once installed it wouldn't boot X. So I made a root login
$sudo passwd root
allows you to set a root password. Then logout as a user and login to the console as root.
To install the wifi stuff you need
# apt-get install firmware-b43-installer
That tucks the right firmware in the right place.
Th Aspire 1510 uses an Nvidia chipset for graphics (Joy!) BUT the release didn't recognise it, so I had to manually install the latest Nvidia release drivers.
# apt-get install nvidia-current-updates
And while you are at it, you might as well
# apt-get update
# apt-get upgrade
and wait another hour to chew through all THAT lot.
A reboot should have everything working to the level of an X display and Maya desktop. with working wifi (as long as you press the radar dish button to enable it, that is!!!)
Looking at what I have, yes it absolutely needs more RAM, but the CPU seems powerful enough for a reasonable 'family car : not Ferrari' type performance.
So if you have one of these old laptops, and fancy it, at least 1GB RAM and go for it.
Looks MUCH nicer than XP ever did...