Not trying to be funny, but honestly, the term “relative ease” is in itself a “relative” term. What might be relatively easy in terms of wireless for someone like deltaflyer, might be mount everest to you and me.
If you look here, a user reported getting this laptop working with 10.2 (no one has reported on anything after 10.2, … not even you with your 10.3 experience): HCL/Laptops/Dell - openSUSE
What was noted was:
Wireless: MiniPCI (Dell Wireless 1390 & 1490) via ndiswrapper. If using 64bit version of openSUSE, ensure that you obtain 64bit Vista drivers from Dell website. Also disable wireless card hotkey in BIOS to ensure that wireless networking stays on, or ndiswrapper will have problems.
Add pci=nomsi to boot parameters when installing openSUSE.
If you go to the Linlap page:
Dell Inspiron 1501 - Linux Laptop Wiki
you will note:
In some distributions, such as Ubuntu, you will need to add pci=nomsi to your boot options for the system to boot properly.
The ATI Radeon Xpress 1150 in this laptop is supported by both the open source radeon driver and ATI’s proprietary fglrx driver. You may like to view our Configuring an ATI graphics chip guide for installation instructions.
This Dell 1390 wireless controller in the Inspiron 1501 doesn’t have any native drivers for Linux so using the ndiswrapper driver is necessary. You can review our Configuring the ndiswrapper driver for information on how to use this driver. The windows driver is available from Dell’s website. There is also at set of native drivers which are available here, but these have note been tested yet. Using the BIOS configuration page, turning off the Wireless Hotkey (Fn-F2 control) seems to help the card work better with ndiswrapper and the Windows driver. (Without turning off the Wireless Hotkey control, the card may get detected, but not find any networks with “iwlist scan”, and the little green WiFi light may not come on.)
You can find the experience of many various distribution users (with your model laptop) here Linux on Dell Laptops & Notebooks and here TuxMobil: Linux Laptop & Notebook Installation Guides: DELL .
Reference the wireless … it appears there are different versions of the Dell Inspiron 1501, with different wireless. So you will need advise which one you have. Also, if for example, a broadcom driver is needed, well a broadcom driver (based on my understanding) is based on proprietary code. Novell/SuSE-GmbH simply do NOT provide openSUSE with proprietary code. Full stop. Hence the wireless will NOT work out of the box with 11.0, nor 11.1, nor 11.2, … etc … UNLESS a non-proprietary driver is produced by either Broadcom, or some hacker. IMHO thats the blunt long and short of it.
Having typed that, there is some broadcom 3rd party support available and I believe many broadcom fitted laptops can be made to work with openSUSE with either the broadcom firmware or with the NDIS wrapper. How easy will that be? … well, as already noted, that is a “relative” term.
You need to tell us exactly what wireless your laptop has. I recommend with root permissions, you run something like lspci -nn | grep Ethernet on your Ubuntu PC, and post that here, and someone may be able to chime in as to how difficult that will be.
Reference your ATI card, … presumably the VESA and/or openGL drivers will work with the ATI xpress (128 mb), … and you likely will be able to get better performance if you use the proprietary ATI driver. There are openSUSE users who can likely help you (I am a nvidia user myself). But I don’t know for certain much about ATI. Someone else with experience with the ATI xpress (128 mb) will have to chime in.