I am a new Linux user, and trying to run Fedora6 on my Dell E1505, but encountered lots of problems. Thanks to the discussions on many Linux forums, especially Michael's replies here, I partially solved some problems. But my wireless adapter and ATI video card still have not been configured to work properly. Trying...
I run Gentoo 2006.1 x86 on my 4-year-old P4-M laptop. It originally came with Windows XP, but SP2 rendered my laptop unusable due to drivers BSODing the system every hour or so. I put SuSE 9.1 on there and stuck with SuSE until 10.1 came out and had the whole crudded-up package manager. I had tried Ubuntu briefly, but it didn't have hibernate support and the then-recent version's kernel had no swsusp2 patch. So I went and put Gentoo 2006.0 on both machines as Gentoo's supposedly the one that you can get anything to work on. The guys on my local LUG were right and I've been happily running Gentoo since then.
It seems a common thing for people here to run Gentoo on their laptops. Did you do it for speed, geek factor, or because you can tweak it? I did it for the tweaks I can ensure everything works like a charm. My CFLAGS are pretty weak (added -msse and -msse2; -msse3 on the desktop is about it) but my systems are rock solid.
My laptop is twice as old as yours. If it didn't have any help from the desktop via distcc, it would honestly take 3-4 days to compile the base system, X, and KDE. With the desktop helping out, it takes roughly 1.5-2 days, dependent on how much stuff can use distcc.