Its been a while since I've posted anything here so just as an excercise for the fingers I thought I'd post an update about my current machine.
I've been running Arch on an old Thinkpad T410s for almost a year now (
journalctl says logs started on June 23, 2014). Its an Intel i5 M560 2.67 GHz from 2010 that was turned in by the sales department as its warranty ran out, physically broken (handrest cracked) with complaints about it being "too slow". This was certainly true with Windows 7 on it. It hadn't come with an nVidia card, so it just has the el crappo first gen Intel HD graphics. The screen is horrible - washed out, nowhere near as nice as some of the newer IPS screens, and not even as good as my old 2008 MacBook (though with a slightly larger screen res: 1440 x 900). I was able to buy a cheap handrest replacement off ebay for $15, and after finding that the reason it was so cheap was because they didn't supply the electronics with it - forcing me to salvage that stuff off the cracked handrest - this second one has now cracked as well. The fan and heat pipe assembly needs to be taken out and cleaned but have been too lazy to get to it, the speakers are very quiet (compared to the MacBook at least), but everything works and its been a great learning experience for Arch.
I started using Arch on a USB drive in February of last year with a newer Dell laptop which I had to keep Windows installed on but quickly came to find that I'd rather have a permanent install to play with. This laptop quickly replaced my MacBook (which runs Ubuntu) as a daily driver mainly because its faster but while I like the keyboard more (I hate chicklet keyboards), its just nasty to state at for very long. While the USB install had i3 (a tiling windows manager) configured, I had decided to use KDE on the Thinkpad - and its been interesting getting to know KDE over the past year. At first I thought I was in love - I use Gnome 3 at work and on all my other machines, and KDE was responsive and looked good. It had all kinds of nifty graphical effects (most of which even worked on my slowgar graphics card too!) but little by little the love affair wore off. I just couldn't find a way to use "activities" (KDE's virtual desktops) without grumbling about it getting in my way, and the whole massive Akonadi experience with Kontact got frustrating after awhile. I liked kjots and kept a lot of notes in there (luckily, these can still be found in
~/.local/share/notes after kde is removed), but the font sizing for all the apps was always wrong and I couldn't ever get it to be a comfortable size, and when kMail started having problems with certificates for accounts and the constant nagging error messages and notifications were the last nail. I ripped out KDE tonight and installed Gnome 3 and am busily moving in. I can see giving a die-hard Windows person KDE as their first Linux desktop because it would be very familiar to them, but I don't think I'll be going back to it.