I bought a Averatec 3200 laptop a few weeks ago - a nice little laptop for a modest price, but it did not come with a backup Windows install CDROM. It did have a Phoenix bios option to restore Windows from a hidden partition - this is what got me into trouble. I went into this bios setup option to see what options there were for re-installing Windows from the hidden partition and mistakenly started the re-install operation, which failed and left my laptop in a non-bootable state.
Now, for my work, all I need are a Java JDK, IntelliJ, Tomcat, JBoss, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, emacs, and OpenOffice.org. Everything else is fluff - this is the stuff that I use to earn a living. I have standard setups for OS X, Windows, and Linux, so it does not matter that much which operating system that I use.
So, I took a half hour and installed Ubuntu Linux on my 3200 laptop - everything (including wireless with WEP after a driver build + install) works great except there is no 3D GL acceleration and I can live without that.
It is irritating to lose Windows, but it was my fault.