So last night I decided I needed to start over (for the fourth time so far) and followed vicarage's recommendation and installed Mint linux instead; Mint is basically Ubuntu without Unity and some other stuff that doesn't play nicely on netbooks, and so far it seems to be very good. Managed to get the micro WiFi pod working in about five minutes, which gives me most of the features I need in a netbook, I'm now trying to reinstall the applications that worked well, and trying some other stuff.
First problem so far is that Wine doesn't seem to want to work properly, and the software manages seems to list a lot more components than it did under Ubuntu - can anyone tell me which ones are needed, and which order I should install them?
Much later worked in the end, after uninstalling and reinstalling twice. Really not over-impressed by it, unfortunately, it has all sorts of problems with anything even sligtly non-standard. I'll leave it installed in case I really need windows compatibility and have no choice, but that isn't the case for anything I need to do on the netbook so far.