The firmware to make an iwl6050 wireless card work lives at http://intellinuxwireless.org/?n=Downloads but I had to back down to version 4 because the ubuntu 10.04 kernel didn't understand version 5. It goes in /lib/firmware. The reason it didn't work after _that_ was that my home router filters mac addresses (too slow around here otherwise) and there's a chicken and egg problem adding the mac to it from a machine that's not already in it, but Causal can export a wireless connection and that worked fine.
To turn a vanilla xubuntu install ito something vaguely usable as a development environment, you need to "aptitude install" 8 gazillion things, starting with: libc6-dev manpages-dev mercurial git cvs pdftk g++ gcj libncurses5-dev xmlto diffstat patch libsdl1.2-dev git-core htop
The 64-bit version of skype insisted on installing the 32-bit compatability libraries. I don't know why.
Ze laptop! It is working!