A few weeks ago, I was looking for an inexpensive laptop that would run Ubuntu with as few headaches as possible. Since Dell Canada doesn't yet offer pre-installed Linux, I decided to order a stock Dell Inspiron 1501. I had to walk through a HOW-TO or two, but everything worked well with very little effort.
Anyway, it was very nice to read your journal entry and see that Linux can actually work out of the box on these systems. This is actually a really big step!