I’ve been playing with the new laptop a bit more this weekend; I installed Steam under Vista and got my Steam games copied over, played some Plants vs Zombies under Wine, and while I’ve so far had no luck getting Mac OS X running in a VM, XP is just fine, as you’d expect.
I’ve also installed some of my usual array of music-making tools: Hydrogen, Ardour, a whole pile of effects plugins, and some soft-synths. I tried getting a music setup running on the old Mac, but JACK refused to co-operate with the on-board audio, throwing xruns even with very conservative latency settings. I never did find the cause — I assume it was a driver issue — but for whatever reason, those same drivers work beautifully on the new laptop, running down to about 8ms of latency without a problem. With a good whack of CPU power, this thing should make a great portable music machine.
OF course, I could’ve built a music setup on the old machine under OS X, but it didn’t seem to cater terribly well to an intermediate user like myself: GarageBand seems a bit like a toy, and I don’t have hundreds of dollars to splash out on a decent DAW and a set of plugins. Besides, I’m used to working with the Linux tools now, so I might as well stick with them.