I've been through the Kubuntu install process before and it was fairly smooth - the only hitch being that it told me it was unable to create the first partition layout I gave it, without telling me why. I chose a different setup and it continued. Once everything was installed the laptop booted into Kubuntu, complete with nice smooth startup screens. I was very impressed to see that I could plug in my ethernet cable and even switch on the wifi and it happily connected automatically to both of them with no problems. Plugged in a mouse, digital camera, USB stick - all detected and worked immediately. It even suspended and resumed with no hacking required, which is a first as far as this laptop is concerned.
However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the problems that I had after installation:
- Setting up DVD playback using the instructions in the help documentation did not work. After a visit to Google and installing xine-ui the problem went away.
- The version of vim installed by default, vim-tiny, is horrendously broken. Arrow keys and backspace don't work in insert mode - I mean, WTF?! Eventually I got sick of this and installed the proper "vim" package and it worked as expected.
- Hibernate didn't work - when it booted back up it brought up a grey bar on the screen and froze up. Hibernate is something I can do without at the moment so I'm not too worried about this one. (I was able to recover simply by selecting the built-in recovery mode from the boot menu and then restarting).
- The worst however was when completely on a whim I attempted to plug in an external monitor. After fiddling with the System Settings application I succeeded only in completely borking up my xorg configuration, without trying too hard I might add. After changing the settings and rebooting I was greeted with the primary screen being the external monitor (which was not what I set it to) and both screens stuck at 640x480, which on a laptop screen with a native resolution of 1280x768 does not look very good at all. So I thought I'd just log in and disable the second monitor - but no, as soon as I logged in the power manager applet crashed, and when I tried to run the System Settings - Monitor and Display settings, it also crashed. After a bit of searching it seems that this is a known bug - the xrandr library that both of these things use (which allows changing screen resolutions on the fly) just crashes when Xinerama (ie, multi-monitor support) is enabled. After much fiddling and cursing I found the only way to get back to a configuration where the laptop's widescreen video mode was detected and available was to restore a backup copy of the xorg.conf file, which fortunately the Monitor and Display settings applet had saved.