OK - so this T60p is getting a little bit battered looking - screen needs replaced for the second time etc...but it's still working. I've been running Ubuntu 9.04 for the last few months with no problems - even the upgrade from 8.10 was smooth(ish).
Yesterday I ran the upgrade from 9.04 to 9.10. the result was anything but smooth. The system started but wouldn't get past the xsplash screen - where the login is supposed to appear, there was no sound either. I could log in to a tty screen via 'ctrl+alt+F2' - that was good. I noticed a lot of posts regarding issues with ATI drivers, and nvidia for that matter, so experimented with old versions of xorg.conf to no avail. the system would boot to a GUI if I chose 'Safe Mode' - normal boot - login at the prompt and run 'startx' - however performance was poor as the ATI drivers were not in use. end result was poor performance - no sound - and generally poor experience.
I burned a new 9.10 Live DVD and it loaded perfectly - no problems - so the issue must have related to the upgrade from my 9.04 system. Luckily enough I keep my home directory on a /dev/sda3, root on /dev/sda1 and swap on /dev/sda2.
I booted the 9.10 Live DVD, chose install, and formatted the root and swap partitions - leaving /dev/sda3 intact. Once the install was completed I mapped a drive to /dev/sda3 where my original home directory sits - the new path being '/mnt/home/name'. Messana has a simple and good guide here on mounting other partitions. Now that the original home partition was mounted I edited /etc/fstab (make a backup first) and changed my home directory to '/mnt/home/name'.
Once all that was done - I logged out and back in again to find my old workspace in all it's splendour, which was nice.
The simple message is if you have difficulty upgrading - just do a fresh install instead of fixing the issues as there were just too many issues to fix. Make your backups of course.