Well, it looks like alice is now fully operational: and my fingers are adjusting to her keyboard rapidly. Fortunately, I am finding myself more often hitting fn+key in place of ctrl+key on dixie, then I am on alice. Whew.
I've installed Ubuntu Netbook Edition, and set it up to behave as dixie has been used all these years: a workstation rather than a terminal. I don't have time to fiddle further with making OpenBSD play nice with Windows 7 on this rig. This does pretty much net me all that I desire: a bourne shell, decent terminal multiplexer, XMonad, Chrome, Pidgin, Dropbox, and a system tray area. I can live with the (ugh) GNU and Ubuntu parts.
The only real difference between the Desktop and Netbook editions of Ubuntu, the former comes with a customised GNOME where as the latter comes with a custom GNOME shell called "Unity". I have really got to say that Unity SUCKS!!!!!! I seriously cannot fathom anyone getting real work done with Unity because you'll have to set it up to do anything more useful than launch Mozilla, it feels so useless, that I think I would trade GNU/Linux for MS-DOS 2/3, and old DOS really, really did suck. Once I found the GNOME shortcut for the run dialog didn't work, I decided instantly it would have to Go.
But to be fair, Unity does do some Very Good Things, and I commend the engineers behind it for breaking away from the Windows norm, that every GUI app tends to follow. The focus on full-screening the apps also is a feature that I like. The whole dock/sidebar thing is also quite nice, if kind of restrictive. Not even KDE4 offered as much nice "Wow, this looks integrated" kind of warm and fuzzies.
But I don't want to take hours to try and restructure the thing, nor do I want to constantly grep programs by their menu pretty names, or have to push a button for just about every darn thing. OK, I still live in a command prompt 75% or more of the time, so sue me.