My name is JÃ¶rn Nettingsmeier, I love this Wiki, and I'm trying to contribute my own findings. For feedback regarding my contributions, you can contact me at <nettings at folkwang dash hochschule dot de>.
SuSE was my first ever distro back in 2.0.32, so I'm somewhat biased, but IMHO it's a very fine product for desktops, and even more so since they created OpenSuSE. Updating still sucks sometimes, but if you're prepared to nuke your box every once in a while and do a clean reinstall, SuSE really kicks ass in the "Works out of the box" department.
I decided against ordering the IBM DVD+CDRW USB drive, since it's way overpriced IMHO. I bought a Freecom FS-50 instead, it was more than 100 Euros cheaper than the IBM and is also very slim and bus-powered. It will use two USB ports (which is unfortunate, since the X41 only has two, and it can't work with the extra power outlet for the IBM drive, so it's a tad less elegant). Since the two ports are on opposite sides of the notebook, you will have to split one end of the double-USB cable of the FS-50 a little bit.
You can also run the FS-50 with an external power supply, which comes included, in which case you need only one USB port. So far, it has worked for me.