"Anyway, today I'm transitioning my parents in law to Windows 7. It will be a pain for me, but at least it will work for them. It won't freeze."
Glad you found something that works for you and your father in law.
I'll just mention that CentOS 6.3 (and the other RHEL 6 clones, Scientific Linux and Springdale, formerly PUIAS) have a kernel and applications that are similar roughly to Ubuntu 10.04. Ubuntu 10.04 is still supported on the desktop until April 2013 so people have three months to explore alternatives should they have hardware problems or find recent Ubuntus not to their taste.
Thanks for your tip. I was also thinking about trying Debian stable.
There is another option, which would be to change the video card of the computer.
But I don't have much time. This is my parents' in law computer not mine, and when I go to visit them with my wife, I don't want to stay the whole day in their office doing computer maintenance. So I decided to use W7, which was already installed in their computer.
Yes, video cards and hardware drivers generally is the difficult area.
I was posting my suggestion for others in the same boat. I detect a 'blind spot' sometimes in some replies to discussions like this about the fact that the operating system is GNU/Linux, and a distribution is just that, a convenient collection of packages and an update system/policy. If someone else finds (say) Ubuntu 10.04 works really well on their hardware, they are likely (but not certain) to find that CentOS 6 will do just as well.
I use a recycled Thinkpad with Intel graphics, so any major Linux distro is a half hour install, with most things working out of the box. Debian is strict about proprietary binary blobs, and so needs a wired connection to install and add the firmware appropriate to the wifi card. CentOS I recollect 'just worked'.
My reason for using CentOS on the laptop is that there is a definite update life published. Debian release their new version 'when it is ready' and the current stable then drops to old-stable with a year of updates. This approach admirable, but I find it easier to slap CentOS on and forget about it until the laptop dies! Sort of the XP of the Linux world.