Please try a live distro (means it runs right of the cd no need to install) if your computer is old it may take sometime to load, but worth it.
knoppix, slax and many others.
Since live distros Engine( the kernel ) is built to recognize everything (hardware) that a kernel is capable of they could help you.
Try to find or read the Distro content and look for the latest kernel
which should be Linux(Kernel)2.6.* and above.
and if your satisfied with the result then you can come back and take advise from members to what distro will be suitable with your hardware and your preferance.
(live distros can be slow, because it runs on physical memory)
also refer http://www.linuxquestions.org/hcl/index.php/cat/10
Hope this helps.