I've been running Debian/Sarge (now the stable branch) on my laptop for quite a while now and its time to try a new distro for dailyl use -- Ubuntu. This week I've been running Ubuntu 'Hoary' and the transition has been very smooth.
The only configuration issue was I wanted to use ALSA on this HP Compaq nc6000 laptop. The install did detect the sound device, but did separate the speaker from
the headphone controls.
phzi on #ubuntu pointed me to the unofficial UbuntuGuide.org, specifically the section configuresoundproperly. Those instructions were perfect.