I finally have Ubuntu on my Laptop. I use the Debian Woody to Ubuntu steps at the Ubuntu Wiki site at http://www.ubuntulinux.org.
I suggest a minimalist installation. Say no to both dselect and tasksel. After you have a basic setup going, follow the steps specified in the wiki.
I found that apt-get install ubuntu-base and ubuntu-desktop didn't do what I expected until I tried to install ubuntu-sounds and ubuntu-artworks. At that point, I added ubuntu-base and ubuntu-desktop.
After about 1G of download, which went really fast, over 500 packages were installed and I had a working Ubuntu on my laptop.
The only problem I have now is getting the ATI-II XP sound going. I have alsa installed, but something is failing even though I followed the Alsa doc.