I feel your pain
things are easy compared to when I started using linux in 1996. there was even less information and less hardware support. not knowing how linux worked back then sucked. I ended up buying a book called running linux its still being updated and sold.
3com and linksys are good, they both have modules you can use that come with the kernel.
the distros dont matter when it comes to hardware support thats what the kernel is all about. I suggest Suse it has a simple package manage and config utills and comes with a good book at least the version I got did 6.0. I use debian unstable these days.