I switched my 4 year old laptop back to Ubuntu, but with the new release (Hoary Hedgehog aka 5.04). After seeing some pleasing results on a SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 box at work, I also sold my soul to the devil and opted for reiserfs.
Good things when compared to Fedora Core 3 and Mandrakelinux 2005LE (aka 10.2):
- Faster startup
- Machine no longer feels like it needs replacing (FC3 ran like a dog. FC2 and Mandrakelinux 10.x/2005LE were fine)
- Sound seems to function. (This could be a first on this laptop).
- The ultimate: software suspend !!! Bloody hell !!!
- Closing the lid locks the screen (Ubuntu 4.10 did this, too)
- Like FC3, the power button works - Mandrakelinux always immediately cut the power
- Wireless card works if inserted before poweron. Under FC3 you'd have to take it out and put it in again. Mandrakelinux was worse than FC3 because GNOME couldn't function if you inserted the card after login... Tut tut tut.
- Nicely themed GNOME startup splash screen (fast login, too) and xscreensaver box
The not so good:
- CPU monitor applet doesn't work. Admittedly FC3 and MDK never changed the CPU frequency, but Ubuntu 4.10 would correctly run speedstep stuff. I think I'm just missing an application to do this (but surely it should be a dependency?).
- Battery status applet doesn't work
Other distros had better watch out. Ubuntu 4.10 was already one of the best 6 months ago, now Ubuntu 5.04 is the best.
Postscript: I meant that Ubuntu 5.04 is the best desktop distro with the caveat that I use GNOME. KDE users may have other opinions. It also has the best support for older laptops. Other distros (e.g. Mandriva as it is called today - 07.04.2005) may be just as capable on newer ACPI compatible laptops.