whats the model and model number of that laptop ?
this might be the touchpad driver
basically what i would do is get a copy of fedora core 3 and install it
then go from there and finish what doesn't work right
i only say fedora because it has a graphical installer that can detect hardware pretty good
this way you will learn all the drivers names and which are part of the Linux kernel and which you need to install yourself.
Linux drivers are installed by compiling new kernel modules so choose kernel developement packages !
Driver and in fact all Linux software comes with instructions.
later if you don't like fedora you can wipe it and start over armed with more information
or you can do like i do on a new machine and put fedora on a small partition to learn about the hardware and get started then later install better distro on another partition and keep fedora as a rescue to the better one.