So I tried installing VectorLinux on Fire (after burning a new disc with better media). No go.
At least with Kubuntu, through some googling I found out Alt-M puts you in adminstrator mode. So I can do administrator stuff despite the fact the button everything says to push doesn't exist.
Of course, that did nothing to fix the network, which doesn't work. And I'm not super-duper interested in finding out what the problem is when the card worked fine under windows.
This is my 3rd bout with Linux (Slackware in 1999, Redhat in 2002) and once again I do not think it is ready for old machines. Maybe it would work fine on new machines, but Windows is still better in my book. And less annoying. Yes, I said it.