After struggling with MS Windows Vista on a Dell Inspiron 1520 laptop, the decision was made to "upgrade" to MS Windows XP Professional.
The laptop has SATA drive, and the XP install media does not contain SATA drivers. While it is possible to "slipstream" SATA drivers into the XP install media, it is more convenient to change BIOS setting to emulate ATA. Doing so allows XP to install.
Upon installation of XP, the bluetooth device was working. Ethernet, wifi, and the camera were not working. Without network adapters, patches could not be downloaded.
This document from the Dell support website explains the order of drivers to install. Using the laptop service tag, 24 drivers were recommended. Downloading drivers one-at-a-time onto a USB flash drive was successful. The laptop recognized the flash drive, and drivers were installed in the order Dell recommends until installation of the Broadcom 440x network driver (R149798.exe) enabled networking. After that, the normal patching process was completed.
The SATA drivers were not correctly installing, so the drive needed to stay in ATA mode.
Using the Windows installer version of Ubuntu Linux, the installation was straight-forward, simple, and quick. It has it's own boot menu entry. Upon switching from ATA to ACHI (to use SATA), it boots and runs normally.
Compared to the MS Windows install, the Ubuntu install was unbelievably easy.