So what distro am I running on the laptop now? Gentoo, which is probably as far from an install-and-boot experience as you can imagine. For those who haven't experienced Gentoo, everything (including the kernel) comes in source form, and must be recompiled before use. What this means is that your initial install could take a couple of days (almost entirely unattended, luckily).
I tried to install Gentoo about a year ago on some old hardware, but I gave up because it tool to %$^# long to compile and install.