OK, so I've got a WinVista laptop - and it's dire, at least the OS is. As well as lots of annoying crapware features well described here, it's also got some really annoying bugs. For example, I quite regularly encounter an error condition in which the WLAN client goes out of kilter, failing to complete DHCP registration and get a routable IP address. Then, after some cursing, it fails to detect the network at all. The best idea I can think is to shut down the Intel wireless LAN client and start it up again; but when I try to disable it through Windows Device Manager, the Management Console application hangs, using 80-90 per cent of CPU (how? this thing has 2x1.8GHz processors! its thrashing is so awful that it's pulling 2.88GHz of processing power!). It has to be killed through the task manager, and the computer rebooted; but the shutdown process then hangs for ages, too.
I've got a copy of Mandriva Métisse Linux on the D: drive; dare I install it? All that holds me back is concern regarding the drive partitioning process - I have two Windows drives, both actually partitions of equal size on a 120GB hard disk. I'd quite like to install the Linux build in D: and dual-boot, but I'm not at all sure how to map the Windows and Unix file systems - I understand that the two are very different, but not how to get around this.