this is really cool but i have found that my computer just can't tolerate the selection process. that's where it locks up. and i have a reasonably young computer! I find it understandable w/ so many little spots to deal with.
Define "reasonably young"? And are you trying to do this with a fractal thats over, say, 4000 pixels on the long side? Is your video card correctly installed with current drivers? (Incase you aren't aware of it, video card drivers are improved over time to keep up with OS improvements, and this can mean that you have to update the drivers on an existing card.)
How much RAM does it have, and if it came with programs pre-loaded, have you cleaned the junk out?
I ask because I always build my own comps and am very selective with what programs I load- my current one is almost 4 years old, running XP and has less than 1GB of RAM but can handle this operation just fine as long as I don't bump the size up to something too huge, say under 6000 pixels. [I'm in the process of building one that will be 64-bit and have at least 4GB of RAM to replace it.] With a new laptop you shouldn't be having problems unless there is something wrong with your system. (If you need help troubleshooting this, feel free to note me.)
This could be an issue with the GIMP and your operating system, especially if you're using Vista, which I've been hearing reports of as being unfriendly to the GIMP. Have you tried any other editing software? If you're looking for free, check out paint.net. The other possibilities are that your video card is not correctly working, or that you comp has RAM allocation issues and is considering the GIMP to be a non-priority RAM usage program. Or you have some conflicting plug-ins loaded into the GIMP itself.
With 2GB of RAM, you shouldn't be having this issue.