I have a netbook (acer AspireOne ADA-150) that dualboots Ubuntu 9.04 and Win7 RC. In Windows 7, wireless works perfectly. When i turn it on, the little light comes on and everythings fine. But in ubuntu, the wireless wont turn on when i flick the switch. it has an Atheros wifi card if that makes any difference. Im a bit of a linux noob, do i not have it installed or something? i can't recall if it ever worked in ubuntu..
If the wifi device is not a kernel driver yet you may need to go to the wifi manufacturer's support site and look for a proprietary driver. Caution: proprietary drivers are not supported by Canonical or Ubuntu and may not update properly when kernel patches are applied or other updates are run. That said the manufacturer of the wifi device may have Linux drivers available or at least may have source code that can be compiled into a driver package. you can then use yacc or gcc to compile the source into binaries that can then be included in your distro. A lot of it depends on if the device has kernel mode drivers available for it. If it doesnt, and it sounds as if it does not by the description of the problem, then you will need the appropriate device driver.
As to being a noob about Linux I share your pain. Im just starting with Linux myself