It is a fact that developing in C is more time consuming, since there is absolutely no support for any modern design patterns in the language, like iterator exceptions or even Objects/ Classes. Although you can help yourself on library level with things like glib, it will never achieve a level of usability like a language which was designed from ground up with those features in mind, like Python or even better; Groovy.
So now there is Vala which is a Java like language that compiles into GObject C code, but although it is much better than being forced to write plain C, it is still not what you can attract people with. With Vala you basically create a language for the Gnome ecosystem, which effectively means you still dont integrate people which did have anything to do with Gnome before. It also means that you cant use it for anything besides writing Gnome applications.
My advise would be to use some standardized managed language like Java/ D/ C#. So if one wants to contribute to gnome one has only to learn a new API and not a whole new language.
I mean thanks to Sun open sourcing Java, we have now a fast an powerful Virtual Machine/ JIT and its a fact that managed languages are the way to go. So why not take a jump and start using it instead. You would get tons of people already familiar with the language, since Java is currently tought almost everywhere. You also automatically get support for all the other languages running on the JVM like Python(Jython) or Groovy. That is without spending any effort on creating bindings and caring about main loop compability, since everything compiles in to the same JVM bytecode.
Actually the Lenovo ThinkPads are famous for working well with Linux, but a great part of that compability is due to using Intel components. So what if you get one of the models with Ati chipset and Atheros WLAN?
The version of madwifi in Ubuntu is too old to support the Atheros Chipset (AR5418 802.11abgn) and current svn is broken; you will see the networks, but you wont be able to connect.
To fix that you need will need to compile the svn trunk version. (just make && sudo make install)
there was a bug in trunk which draw it unusable after r3402, but it was fixed again so you can use trunk normally.
You can get 2D acceleration with both radeon and radeonhd drivers, but if you want to have 3D Acceleration, you will need fglrx, which is actually not that bad at all in the current version(8.3), you just have to enable
Textured Video to accelerate Video playback
Textured 2D to use the new 2D acceleration architecture
there is TexturedXRender too, but it is still quite buggy, so I would not recommend that.
to do so add the following lines to the Device Section of your xorg.conf:
this greatly improves 2D performance – the 3D performance is good since several releases already.