Hardy Heron and the Dell Precision M4300

In brief: the problems discussed here and here go away under the most recent Ubuntu release, Hardy Heron, which I can generally recommend.

Alsa seems stable and graphics support is present from installation onwards. Enabling fancier 3D compiz effects requires the nvidia-glx-new package; compiz spots this, however and prompts for installation. All very smooth. Wireless works; my VoIP headset works; but I haven't yet tested Bluetooth.

The only problem was in upgrading from Gutsy: my previous peregrinations had rendered my hybrid distribution shafted and incapable of upgrade. This isn't a problem, though, if one has installed the /home directory (and in my case the /music one too) on a separate partition: the Ubuntu Live CD will blat the root partition with Heron, but leave the other partitions alone if you so require. Don't resize any of your partitions during installation, though, or you'll lose everything. Everything!