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[SLUG] dualling with dell

Hi Folks,
Anyone here who can offer advice on dual booting a modern dell laptop
(inspiron 9400) whilst preserving at least some of the dell

I've done some research on this [1], and it looks like I have
1) a dell-based MBR
2) a dell utility partition at the front of the disk
3) winXP in the 2nd parition
4) a dell system recovery (symantec-based image) partition (DSR) at
the end of the disk
5) a hidden partition that won't be detected by the bios (a process
called 'hpa') which is right at the end of the disk which allows you
to use dell media direct (play dvd's without loading a full os).
A diagram of this setup is on the mediadirect link below ([1]).

I'm interested to know if people are putting grub in the MBR or trying
to preserve the dell MBR, because if you use grub, you are probably
going to lose the functionality for both the utility and rescue
I can see a method for how to use the windows bootloader - instead of
grub in the mbr -  to boot linux (in linuxdevcenter article [1]), but
is this going to work on top of the dell mbr?  Is it chainloading or

The utility partition looks replaceable; also the dell resouce cd may
do a similar job to this utility so it seems superfluous.

The dsr partition looks irreplaceable.
However I have a dell winxp disc and a dell resource cd which suggests
that, if I really wanted to, I could re-install windows and the
drivers without using the rescue partition or any of the dell stuff
that was originally on my disk.  It would be less convenient, but good
enough.  And there are alternatives.

Then there's the hidden mediadirect hpa partition which might be a gig
or two.  Has anyone done anything with this on their modified systems?

Whilst I'm trawling for advice: I can't seem to get a consensus on the
size of the swap partition.  I have 2gb of ram.  How much of an issue
is swap?

Some thoughts from anyone who has been or currently is in the trenches ?