Hello The Artist (btw I am as well)
I hope I'm not telling you something sp trivial everyone here already knows it but one really cool thing about "hot rods" (like Linux, originally hand-built by hackers for hackers) is that they have lots of "gauges", or in Linux's case various kinds of logs and documentation, built right in, no google required. One beautiful thing about the linux kernel is even if your distro displays some graphic to hide the nuts 'n bolts or if you don't use framebuffer to increase resolution of boot up text so that it flies by way too fast, just take a gander in "/var/log".
There you will find many logs although they may differ slightly by distro some are always present. For example since I use Slackware most I'll use it, "/var/log/messages" is a text file that not every distro has perhaps because it pretty much duplicates "dmesg" albeit in text form. Dmesg is accessed as a command, usually in a terminal, and often accompaniied by one or more switches to alter how it displays.
"#dmesg |more" delivers one pages worth and pauses, waiting for you to strike one of several keys to proceed by the line or by the page.
I won't go into detail about the "less", "more". and "tail" switches other than to point out (slightly off topic) that "tail" is particularly useful for hot pluggable hardware like USB, eSATA, and Firewire devices since it prints out only the "tail" end of dmesg which after installing a hot pluggable device is where that pertinent info should be found with no need to go over what hardware was discovered and it's disposition that occurred during boot.
It is worth looking around in /var/log as their are logs specific to XWindows and also nVidia places logs there as well. Also on some systems "lspci" and especially "cat proc" are commands that are very powerful at deriving and displaying information about your hardware. Some, not all as GUI is limited in flexibility compared to command line, of this data is available via GUI such as in KDE w/ "kinfocenter" a subset for hardware inside of "Control Center". Puppy has other names but does exactly the same thing, give a graphic face for these commands, usually somewhere in the "System" menu, iirc.
I don't want to scare anyone away with too much talk about possibilities, especially with CLI, just know that Linux is incredibly powerful if you learn to ask the right questions. For now I invite "the artist" and anyone else with hardware issues, to just open a terminal or if in KDE, Konsole, whatever, and simply type "dmesg". You don't need to worry about any switches if you don't want to get even mildly complicated because, unlike DOS, terminals in XWindows scroll (in strictly CLI they still Page Up and Page Down) so you can see everything. Some of it will make little sense but a good deal will make sense to even the rawest newb as you'll see your various hardware items get discovered, tested, and dealt with.
In "the artist" s case I am quite certain you will at least see your wireless chipset identified and possibly any warnings or difficulties the kernel has in loading a driver/module for it. Nothing gives you info or control over your hardware on such deep levels as linux, and still it is imposible to break hardware from the command line. The worst you can do is lose data and that is impossible on a LiveCD OpSys like Puppy, since all changeable data is on ramdrive.
Ultimately, the reason it takes a little while to learn Linux is because it can do so much more than any other OS. If you want to really "own yer box" instead of being some sort of lesee or guest, you're on the right path exploring Linux.