I replaced that laptop with a cheap compaq loaded with Windows 7. I found windows 7 to be just fine and had no plans to install linux on this machine. Until...
We got a rootkit virus on the network at work which, amongst other things, infected Buffalo Terastation network accessible storage devices. Our virus protection software was ineffective at removing it and every malware/spyware app I could get my hands on failed to remove it, including Kaspersky and Sophos boot disks. Not having the technical expertise to root it out of the boot sector, in desperation I searched for a brute force approach. A parallel installation of linux on a laptop and a 2 terabyte external hard drive was the answer. I enabled FTP access on the terastations and found an FTP client called Filezilla. Sixty some thousand files in god knows how many folders later, one terastation was backed up. Thankfully, Filezilla duplicated the folder structure on the fly. The next step for the terastations is to reformat the drives
Ubuntu has several .iso files for 32bit and 64bit platforms at www.ubuntu.com. I tested the OS via an Ubuntu Live CD iso that I downloaded from the site. The computer boots from the cd, bypassing the windows OS installed on the hard drive. Once I was relatively sure it was going to work on the laptop I had at the office, I got Ubuntu's windows installer and set it up parallel to Windows xp.
After working with the 32bit version, I got the 64bit "live" version to test on my home laptop. The 32 bit version is small enough to fit on a CD. The 64bit version is just a bit too large and required a DVD.
So far, Ubuntu 11.04 is working pretty much flawlessly on the 32bit laptop at work. It's working pretty well on my 64bit laptop, but I need to update some drivers I think. It's having a bit of a problem with my wireless mouse. I am running Ubuntu for workstations on both laptops. They do have notebook versions as well.
This is the malware/trojan/virus that infected our network. Yes, it has all three types of malicious software as its payload. It propagates via windows shares across the network. If I were President of the US, I would create an antimalware department, with the ultimate malware removal tool for the source of said malware.