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If anyone is interested I have purchased an HP 550 laptop that comes
pre-installed with Vista Home.
I have tried Ubuntu 8.10 AMD 64 but failed, so I tried 8.10 386 (32bit)
with success the first time.
Once you boot from CD drive you can adjust the Vista partition and
continue the installation without any problems.
Once you reboot you will find the usual boot manager of Ubuntu asking
which OS you wish to boot.
Both the wired and wireless connection to my THOMSON router were identified and worked first time.