I'm fighting that same laptop Granny....trying to get VL light on it maybe now, at least it looked ok on the live CD, we'll see what the install does. I to am scared of this "into the kernel" thing....
EDIT....OK Granny May I ask how did you get it going. I can not get this 1100 to have video.
I wish I could tell you, but I don't remember having a problem getting video going on this Inspiron 1100. I tend to solve problems by rote and can never remember exactly what I did that worked, but I'm sure I'd remember if I had a battle to the death. I think that when I installed VL6 Light VASM set up the video for the xorg intel driver.
My suggestion would be to start in text mode and run VASM when you log in. Or run vxconf as root. You could try the vesa driver, which often works when others don't. My machine works best with the driver called intel.
You may need to reboot several times. I've had situations where the screen went black as soon as I did startx. If it does that, it's not going to work the second time. I have to turn off the computer and restart. Maybe on the fourth try it'll work fine. I have no idea why it does this sometimes.