I seem to have the problems on the laptop worked out about as well as I expect to for the near future, so I'll probably be installing it on the desktop soon.
On the other hand, there were more of them than I would expect, and there was less support for working through them than I would have hoped for.
So I still recommend Ubuntu, on the grounds of the highly supportive and large community, but if you hear of people abandoning Ubuntu in droves for something else, you might want to consider leaving with them.
Here's the list of problems I hit with pointers to the solutions:
- I installed an early beta version, and expected there to be some problems, but just as the things like the cursor going away when you closed the lid were starting to be fixed, they released a kernel version that caused my laptop to boot to a black screen. This is still not fixed in the official version -- I'm working around it by using an unreleased kernel version. The details are here and here.
- I had been using wicd instead of network-manager, since I never figured out how to configure my wired connection with network-manager. On 10.04, there's a problem with the wicd configuration. The symptom is that when you boot, although the networking is configured, dns doesn't work. If you disconnect and then reconnect the wired configuration via the wicd GUI, it works fine. I never figured out how to fix it -- I'm working around it by uninstalling both network-manager and wicd and writing /etc/network/interfaces the way I want it. This will be a nuisance if I ever take the laptop anywhere else and want to use a wireless configuration, but since the battery is dead, I probably won't. If you just want to use DHCP and a wireless configuration, 10.04 seems to work exactly the way you want it to out of the box.
- A relatively minor problem was that the xmltv underpinnings of freeguide were incompatible with the freeguide distributed with 10.04. So a program that worked fine on 9.04 upstairs, wouldn't download listings on the downstairs laptop. I'm working around this by installing the xmltv stuff from Debian unstable, as explained here.
So the upshot is that I seem to have a working laptop, over a month after the official release of 10.04. But it's by no means by way of a completely standard install. And this is a system that really doesn't have to do much. So I'm still nervous about putting it on my desktop. I'm sure I'll get around to it before they stop doing support for 9.04, but I'm going to be very wary about installing another non-LTS version.