Yesterday, I got his Internet connection working. After long hours of research, I determined that the wireless card in his system was one that only the most enlightened of geek gurus had managed to coax into operation under Linux.
Seriously: when you Google on "D-Link DWL-520 V. E-1", most of the results on the first page are forum posts that say "I can't get this to work under Linux!" Further investigation shows that Revision A, B, C and D will all run with some degree of coaxing; it's only Revision E that flat-out refuses to run.
Yes, I did find one page that gave instructions to make it work -- a complex series of command-line gibberish well beyond my level of competence that would probably make actual troubleshooting even more opaque. I can't find it again, though.
There are pages that list which wireless cards are most Ubuntu-friendly. Unfortunately, they're organized by manufacturer first, and model second. This is great if you want to see how hard it's going to be to get wireless running on your system. If you're going shopping for a new card, and want to get the Most Compatible Card Available, it's not so useful.
A quick trip to Fry's confirmed that the most cost-effective solution was 50 feet of CAT-6 cable. $20, and no more time wasted on configuration!
In completely unrelated news, he's staying home from school today, insisting that he has diarrhea. This is a fairly consistent pattern, whenever he gets a functioning net connection after not having one for a while.
Obviously, it's bad for his digestion.
I have, as a result, unplugged his shiny new CAT6, and will not give him his password today. He needs his bed rest!