Readers to the rescue!
The first thing you learn when you write about technology is that the people who read your stuff are smarter than you'll ever be. So let me start by saying "Thank you" to all the Linux users who responded toon my travails trying to get Ubuntu 7.10, or "Gutsy Gibbon," to recognize my Linksys WPC300N wireless adapter.
The first suggestions I tried were the ones that didn't entail installing a new app, though ultimately a free download was the fastest and simplest solution. I started by disabling remote mode, as recommended by "argraff." Unfortunately, the adapter stayed silent. "PasterEdB" advised me to add a command to my kernel boot-up options. This might have worked, if I wasn't such a Linux "noob" that I couldn't find the options in question (yes, I'd appreciate someone instructing me how to do so, and thank you in advance).
Two other readers said they had similar wireless problems that were solved by purchasing a $30 program (so much for freeware), and by disabling one of Ubuntu's built-in apps and reloading NDISWrapper. Some suggested I try a different Linux distro, or buy a laptop with Linux pre-installed.
The solution that worked for me was posted by kingargyle1, who recommended that I download WiFi Radar. Just seconds after I installed the program the Linksys adapter sprung to life. I popped in the network password, opened Firefox, and had my Gmail inbox open in no time. If I were a true geek I would've started poking around to determine how the program managed the trick, but I'd rather simply start browsing and offer my heartfelt thanks to the benevolent geniuses who wrote the program and made it available for free. And of course, my undying fealty goes out to kingargyle1 for the help: Long may you reign!
I know it's just my newbieness showing, but now that everything's working (apparently), it feels like my six-year-old laptop has been reborn. Now the true test: I'll spend the next few days using it as my lone computer (or nearly so), and report on my Ubuntu experience next Friday.
Monday: The five most useful features hiding in Microsoft Word.