I ended up buying the Dell Inspiron 530. It has 3 gigabytes of memory, dual core processors and 500 gigabytes of disk space and a Hauppauge WinTv tuner. The only thing is that it came with Vista and I really don't want that on my machine. Before wiping the hard drive I loaded the PCLinusOS 2007 live CD into the machine and rebooted. The first indication that I had problems was the message 'No IDE channel' and the machine refused to boot with the CD. I went to the forums and read about the problems other people were having and tried all of the command line options, but, no luck in booting the machine is PCLinuxOS 2007.
I then tried to run a number of other live CDs that I have with various amounts of success:
- Mandriva 2008. It boots, but no Java and no ATI drivers. The tuner didn't work and the Palm M130 didn't show up on the USB bus.
- Mint. It has Java and the ATI drivers. No tuner recognition and the Palm M130 didn't show up also.
- Knoppix. It has Java and Firefox, but, no ATI drivers.
- Ubuntu, Kubunt, Xubuntu.
- Simple Mepis
Today the PCLInuxOS development team announced PCLinuxOS 2009 Beta 1 and I am downloading that at this time and I will be giving it a try later on. No matter what I will be keeping dual-boot as there are some games that my daughter wants to play and they don't support Linux (yet).
The one lesson I learned is that when getting new hardware use the Live CD first and see how it works on the machine before doing the installation and totally hosing the system.