If I don't have my hands on I ain't learnin' shit
I installed MacPup 528 on a very old Dell laptop (only 256mb RAM) and it runs great. The hardest thing for me (should not be an issue with ubuntu) was getting the wireless USB adapter to work. Take it all in small steps. A few things I installed required a reinstall of the OS but MacPup installs very quickly.
Firefox and Flash have been my biggest issues. Opera runs great on it. I managed to get Rainlendar installed as well as Dropbox. Check out Portable Linux Apps for a bunch of stuff. I found portable versions of apps that wouldn't install or run correctly otherwise.
DA has some nice 'skins' for Ubuntu as well, when you start customizing everything.