Well after my post I got a number of offers to fix my hard drive.
I looks like for 60-75$ I can get the data pulled off of it. Which is, to me, great.
Meanwhile I have 2 dead computers and a dead laptop. So through some careful configuring I have assembled one Frankencomputer! Currently it has an 80gig drive running Ubuntu 10.04. I'd like to upgrade to Ubuntu 12 or Fedora, but I'll need a new video card and memory.
Of course I need to decided whether or not to stick with a Linux OS.
The open software scene is a bit like the OSR. I feel that the ethos are mostly the same, but I could be wrong.
Course the thing I am missing the most on a Linux-box is I can't play my Doctor Who DVDs and frankly I don't have the desire to go out there and dig up codecs and use crazy Linus-speak to install them.
My wife says I should just forget it all and just buy a new computer.