After a couple of days messing around with my netbook trying to get it switched over to Linux, Ubuntu finally comes through for me and I get WiFi setup and on the net. Initially I started with the community guide on the Ubuntu site for getting Intrepid Ibex (8.10) up and running on my Acer Aspire One. That worked great; to a point. First it installed fine, but as stated in the guide, kernel 2.6.27-11 breaks the wired ethernet, so to finish everything I had to restart after the update and go back to 2.6.27-7 from GRUB. No big deal it got me back on the net to download some more stuff.
After finding a somewhat older posting on the Ubuntu forums, I discovered the following works like a charm:
Support for 5xxx series of Atheros 802.11 wireless becomes active upon reboot this is what lets you connect. Don’t deactivate it.
The one thing I tried here was to download the modules for both kernels; 27-11, and 27-7. After an install and a reboot I popped right back up, found the wireless connection and connected right off the bat in the latest kernel. w00t! w00t!
Hindsight being what it is, I should have tried this yesterday before trying to go back 8.04 like I did. Had I gone down that path I would have saved myslef a few hours of jerking around with kernel panic, and reinstall, uninstall. The kernel panic is documented bug, and some folks are able to get around it by selecting an older kernel in GRUB.