Ok, I finally got myself a new computer, and I even managed to get my old system running on it (just basic copying, no any super tricks because all I could do was transfer through network, and I didn't feel like creating same partitions on this larger disk).
This is a Dell Inspiron 1100, which is widely available for below $700 at Dell's online store to... US residents. Still, it's possible to use eBay to find someone who's willing to ship it overseas, and that's how I got mine.
This one is a Celeron 2.3GHz, with 256MB memory and 20GB hard drive, and a combo DVD and CD writer. Of course, modem, network, sound and graphics is integrated into Intel i810 board. Network card requires either the latest Linux kernel in the series 2.4 (2.4.23), or getting yourself a separate driver (search for bcm4400). BIOS is riddled with bugs which makes i810 driver in XFree86 4.3 suck (BIOS limits video memory to 1MB, and doesn't accept the request from the driver to change it — reportedly fixed in CVS, which will become 4.4 soon), but there's a simple tool to allow it to be used even with 4.3.
I didn't get modem working, though I didn't even try very hard (I've got a PCMCIA card).
As always, this machine came with Windows preinstalled (XP Home). It took up entire hard drive, and wouldn't let it go. Since I wanted to keep it until I try out Serbian translation of Windows XP, but didn't want it to take over more than 2GB, I had to dump it, and reinstall it later.
Now, I was not too much surprised that my ancient Slackware 8.0 install (which doesn't autodetect anything) didn't detect a thing, though most of it was painless to get working. But, when XP started in 640x480 mode with 16-bit colors, and complained how I should enlarge my resolution (same problem as with X: cannot use more than 1MB of video memory), without a clue about the network card, modem or audio, I started to wonder where is that usability I was often convinced there is (like in discussions on EliteSecurity web forums a couple of months back). Yes, of course, all the drivers were available on a CD. But that usable is any other system too: if vendor provides the drivers, it's not a problem to put them onto a CD, web, or anywhere else. Dell could have also put all the drivers for the Linux kernel and for the XFree86 on a CD (they're all available, except maybe for the modem — Inspirons 1100 apparently come with 3 distinct modem chipsets, and I got the one that has the slightest chances of working).
Ok, point I tried to make earlier got confirmed — installing basic hardware is not easy, and doesn't belong into everyday's work on any system.
As a sidepoint, late in the last year I got a digital camera to play with, and it installed seamlessly as USB storage (once I modprobed all the USB stuff, of course, since this is ancient system ;), and I used Nautilus to view my images. Great, I loved playing with that, but it had to go back ;). Now, I'm seriously considering getting a good digital camera (this one was HP PhotoSmart 850, which is not bad, but is a bit slow on responding).