As mentioned previously I decided to try the Ubuntu derivative gOS on some lower spec computers and have spent most of today using it to do most of the things I normally do . My impression was still quite good as gOS is still Ubuntu Gutsy underneath.
The default choice of Xine to handle multimedia rather than Mplayer meant that streamed content on the BBC news site (News 24 and real player content) had a greater chance of working without too much fiddling around ( I still had to add some non free codecs etc but while the world chooses proprietary formats that aren’t technically free then this kind of fiddling may always be necessary).
My reservation centred around how easy it was to delete the shelf application launcher which concerns me as handing out donated machines I would usually lock applications to bottom configured panel in a Gnome configured Ubuntu whilst a gOS modified E17 desktop seems to have no way to lock them in a similar way. Loosing the shelf could confuse many average users in the same way that suddenly squashing up or moving the taskbar in Windows can prove, for many, beyond their knowledge to put back to its original configuration.
Having said that putting the shelf back was quite easy though I’m not sure how obvious this would be to a less technically minded user (I don’t mean that to sound patronising) and I preferred a slightly different shelf set-up to the default as I felt the scrolling shelf might be a bit confusing and was not ideal (it’s a shame the shelf doesn’t expand and contract the app icons in a more OS X way).