Hey there wildbill, think we need a little more info here...
What laptop/desktop are you using?
What OS are you using?
Choose an external wireless card and stick to that one for troubleshooting purposes... what chipset is it?
There are different versions and not every version is compatible with Linux.
And not every version of Linux is compatible with every chipset.
Are you in a VM or are you running the OS Live or Installed?