I had the opportunity to have a good session with a new Asus eee PC 900. Linux, not XP. I found it remarkably good and astonishingly cheap.
I only noticed two bad things about it.
1. The screen only gives a colour depth of 16 instead of 256, which means photos don't display all that well.
2. Asus left out part of Linux which configures various settings such as the display of dates. Fine if you are from the USA, but what about Europe! So you can only get MM/DD/YY in the file manager. In theory you can download chunks of repository and reconfigure it but you need to be a superior Linux geek.
I put Ubuntu Linux on mine. Goes by the name Easy Peasy. It took a bit to install since, like you say, it helps to be a Linux geek.
It even supported two finger touch pad, and gained 1/4 free space on the 4gb ssd. The display looks great as well. Not sure about the flexability of the date format however. Info is probably on the web.