Re: Is 256 MB of RAM enough for Windows 2000 to run optimally?
Yes, it will run fine. However, as JCB says, as soon as you start installing and using contemporary programs it's very likely that swapping will drag the machine to a bit of a halt.
If you have to use the machine without a memory upgrade, try to use older software that will run comfortably with 256MB RAM. Even modern web browsers, with plug-ins enabled, will gobble up 256MB of RAM with ease. On that note, disable any plug-ins that are not neccessary to speed up browsing. Also, again as JCB mentioned, any modern anti-virus software will not run great with only 256MB headroom - and it's pointless running old AV software, so research some Anti-virus software requirements and pick a light one. If your using the machine in a isolated enviroment (as in, connectivity, not biologically, lol) you can get away without any AV software.
On the Puppy Linux comment above, Win 2K will run just as smoothly as any Linux Distro that's using a GUI. It's an 11 year old OS and if your laptop has 256MB of RAM, and everything else in the Laptop is of the same era, it's more than capable of running Windows 2000 comfortably. I'd only consider Linux if your going to be using it soley for internet browsing, where AV software would be neccessary under Windows, and program compatibilty is not an issue.
There's my 2p. Hope it helps.
Delta: "What's wrong Chris?? Chris: "I miss my old Cyrix"