The wireless card is reported to work with driverloader/ndiswrapper, and that's what i'll be trying initially (Does anybody know of a wiki or how-to using this card?).
Well, I am using a notebook with the latest Centrino Processor, and Wireless card, which isn't (not already) supported by Linux. But I am using the Ndiswrapper, which works quit fine, if you are using the 0.7 version. I tried other version, but they just freezed my desktop after a short while... So you should get your card working .
i believe you will need the 2.6 kernel for the pcmcia card, i could be wrong.
yep, you are! no offence, but i had a pcmcia-card with my old notebook and a 2.4 kernel and it worked fine
About a better distro... have a look at this
In the end it depends on how much you want to do do on your own, and how much you understand Linux.
BTW: SuSE and Debian are available on DVD