Distro makes next to no difference in terms of compatibility. I would use something recent, (no way in hell is that RH9, that is years old), but Fedora 3, Suse, Mandrake, Debian, Slack, Gentoo etc all are cool. You should look here
, and see if your hardware is ok with linux. I have a thinkpad slightly older than yours with DVD, and it is cool with debian, including the wireless card. Wireless can be tricky though, and I wouldn't suggest debian as a first install, unless you don't mind doing much work to get started.
Distrobutions of linux are more like personalities, if you don't like it, try another. There is no right or wrong choices. I suggest only recent distros because then you have a good chance of the necessary drivers being included with it.