Some things I had in mind during the process:
1. Lightweight OS/DM - with this particular laptop resources aren't a problem, but lightweight stuff tends to be faster, and speed is of essence when you're on a battery.
2. Least mouse-dependance possible - carrying around a mouse and plugging it in all the time isn't optimal in a crowded university environment.
With the main goal set, I started going into specifics.
I really like working on Linux, the problem here was choosing the right distribution to do the job. I decided on Arch as it doesn't install a bunch of stuff you'll never use (just the basic system, you have to get/install the rest yourself, allowing you to choose only necessary things) and making adding new programs fairly easy with pacman.
With OS out of the way, I now had to choose the proper desktop manager. I went with Fluxbox, which is not just lightweight and nice looking, it's also simple to use, offers a lot of customization options and most of all, allows you to assign hotkeys to everything you want anyhow you want. Not to mention several workspaces which prevent desktop-clutter and help organize your work.
End result in the looks department after some tweaking (note that I was unable to capture transparency in the screenshot, but that's not a big deal):
With all the basics in place, I then had to adjust the 2 most commonly used pieces os software: text editor and web browser.
Text editor was easy enough, since vim is a great and fast tool to make quick changes to files or doing smaller files. For more robust work there's always Emacs, with AUCTeX and RefTeX it becomes a great laTeX editor.
The (seemingly) hard part was getting rid of necessity for mouse movements in web browser (god I hate touchpads). The solution was very simple: Firefox with vimperator.
It not only gives you more viewing space in the browser by disposing of all the unnecessary stuff at the top of the screen (like address bar) but also allows for advanced control with vi like commands.
Sleek, mouse-independent browser:
I really like my current setup, it's really fast and stable (not to mention it's great to use graphical OS/apps without the need for mouse). I'm still looking into possible ways of improving it (mouse-less image editing would be nice) and doing some thorough testing (how long exactly can it work on battery alone and if it would work as great on a laptop that's not as powerful - currently using Samsung r580 - since Fluxbox is lightweight enough).
Have any of you made similar attempts? Share them please! I could use some inspiration