Better LuckSpent a good chunk of the day yesterday setting up a dual-boot on JennySlash's laptop but this time with some reasonable success. It was still not effortless, but at least I ended up ahead, unlike last time. The first stumbling block was trying to repartition the hard drive, only to find that Dell had so many hidden partitions that I couldn't add another one. After some research, I found that one of them was for storing files used by Dell's media player hotkeys, which I figured J would never use, so I shrank the Vista partition and blew away the media partition. Then since I'd left the Vista implementation in an iffy state, I did a "factory restore" of it back to the way it came out of the box so that we'll have a known state if/when she ever decides to run Vista.
The installation of XP Home went okay, without any real problems. Of course most of the hardware didn't work but I found a number of sources of information on what drivers I'd need. Dell's support site is not helpful about XP drivers for a system it only sells with Vista, but others had found that the drivers for the Latitude D531 would work for her Inspiron and in fact they were right.
The next step was to install SP3. The initial attempt using Windows Update hung after awhile, so I killed it and downloaded the installer, which worked fine. I then went back to update for a few more fixes (unchecking the upgrade to IE 7 since there are some incompatabilities between it and Blackboard) and things were looking pretty good.
Finally downloaded anti-virus from Alwil, firewall from ZoneAlarm and anti-spyware from Spybot and spend the rest of the night configuring them. Today J gets to play around with it and figure out what I haven't done yet, but hopefully the random hangs and overheating she had with Vista will be a thing of the past.