My upgrade to the Meerkat didn't go quite as planned: or rather it did, I just didn't realize!
Having downloaded and installed the Ubuntu 10.10 update, I started to suffer from some strange rendering problems: my workspace wallpapers wouldn't render at all and application windows left ghost images when I closed them. To top this off, AWN also started behaving erratically and and I suspected that I'd found the limits of the 1501's hardware. However, as it turns out, it wasn't a problem with either the laptop or the upgrade, it was a problems with Compiz and AWN.
Installing Avant Window Navigator from scratch resolved the dock related problems (although I had to forgo the workspace switcher applet and a Python Menu app) but I had to turn off the Compiz wallpaper plug-in to get my wallpaper to render. Of course, this means that, in 10.10 at least, I can't have individual wallpapers for each workspace. There is one workaround that resolves the rendering problem during a session (start a tty session (Ctrl + Alt + F1) and then switch back to your desktop (Alt + F7)), but the problem returns on each reboot. There is also a patch for the problem, but I haven't had time to implement it.
Apart from these minor issues, 10.10 runs happily on my Inspiron 1501: so far, still so good!
Sources and References
Launchpad Bug Report Bug #629391
Ubuntu Forums Compiz Wallpaper Plugin Broken with 10.10