After a few hiccups and a few needed tweaks being applied, the laptop is finally fully functional and working nicely.
I had done an initial install of straight ubuntu with a full gnome desktop. Everything went fine as the installer makes things really easy for the user to gain a fully functioning system quickly.
I did end up with a couple of show stopping issues right off the bat. Gnome-network manager did not want to play nicely with the new broadcom wireless drivers. I've been a fan of wicd for some time (it's easy to set up on Slackware as well), so I added the wicd repos to synaptic and replaced gnome-network-manager with wicd and my wireless worked nicely. The far larger problem was that nautilus was crashing frequently, and this is not something that one can deal with very well on a gnome desktop. So I figured that Ubuntu has many options available and instead chose to install Xubuntu-desktop (xfce) and replace Ubuntu-desktop (gnome).
After installing the xubuntu desktop, I had a few things to configure. The fonts were much uglier than a default gnome install, so I changed the font to dejavu-serif bold, changed the font dpi to 100, and turned on full hinting and subpixel hinting.
I moved all the default applications to one panel and deleted the top panel, and it looks very similar to a gnome install. Installing the medibuntu repositories enabled me to install mplayer and mplayer-plugin, and then installing adobe-flash and sun-java6-jre rounded out a nice browsing experience.
Virtual Box compiled nicely and they now have a nice windows xp installation within ubuntu. This is important for a few of their programs that are windows only (such as their massive solitaire suite).
The 2nd show stopper was that the media card reader built-in to the laptop was not functioning. No devices were found initially for the card reader, so I had to do a little investigating to get it to work. lspci showed the hardware to be a
Mass storage controller: Texas Instruments 5-in-1 Multimedia Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD)The relevant modules are "tifm_sd, tifm_7xx1, and tifm_core". So I added these to /etc/modules and at boot the system detects the card reader and when plugged in thunar shows the sd card on the left as accessible! There is no xd card support yet, but luckily they have sd cards and only one xd card.
All in all it works rather nicely. There were a few issues, but with proper tweaking the system is now running great.