A few years ago I attempted a similar effort, but the hardware a couple generations earlier - I installed FreeBSD via floppy and modem.
It was interesting to watch - it asked me for a little info regarding my dial-up connection (username and password, as well as the phone number to dial), then it dialed the phone, connected to my ISP, and downloaded the required packages and installed. It ran overnight, so I'm not sure how long it took, but in the end it worked great!
I may give your notes a try, I have a few older laptops that need a purpose (Pentium I and 64-80 Meg RAM, 4 Gig HDs).
Good article, look forward to the story on XWindows you hint at towards the end... ;^)