Decided to give Gentoo a try, since the graphics looked so sexy on the cover disk of a recent Linux magazine. This distro is designed to be compiled from source, the theory being that you end up with a perfectly customised and optimised system. It also has a FreeBSD-style software installation system called portage, since the installation system was one of the things I really liked about FreeBSD I thought it would be worth a go. Also, my laptop, being essentially the same as my work laptop except lower spec, was largely superfluous, so worth experimenting on. Downloaded the 'minimal' live ISO and spent a day following the instructions to get a basic system installed, creating and formatting partitions and building my own kernel and so on. It seemed to go OK apart from being unable to install GRUB (didn't like my BIOS I think), but I got LILO to work. Of course, once I booted it up it was kernel panics left, right and centre as I discovered I'd built modules that were incompatible with the PCMCIA support. Built X and Gnome, but didn't manage to get them running :(