As mentioned earlier, I hadn't gotten the laptop's microphone working under Xubuntu. Not mentioned was that a wrist rest became desirable due to the effects of its absence. A separate issue was that the new desktop motherboard has only one (count it, one) PS/2 port - for a keyboard or a mouse.
Between an on-line order and a trip to Mankato, those were dealt with tonight, or the attempt was made. There's not much to say about a wrist rest. It does seem to be helping, so far.
The microphone (a headset & mic. combo) works. I had to boot the laptop into Windows to make sure all the hardware worked, and it does. A bit more searching yielded a page guiding one through upgrading alsa on *buntu 10.04 which gave me the ability to use a microphone in Linux. The on-board mic. works, and so does the headset mic. There is some clicking in the external mic. recordings when not running on battery, but the office is rather electrically noisy. That might be a non-issue elsewhere. Or I can just run on battery when I need to use the external microphone for something that really needs to be sonicly clean.
The PS/2 port looked like it might be a two-in-one deal, but it isn't. The port can take a pointer, or it can take a keyboard. While some designs were such that things could be split and an adapter used to plug both items into one port, that is not going on here. It's either-or, but not both. For now I have the keyboard (via KVM switch) plugged into the PS/2 port. I have a USB trackball. I think I may need another, to keep with the laptop. And eventually, if I keep more than just belgian and andalusian around, I'll need a USB keyboard and a USB (and HDMI, probably) KVM switch. All that can wait.