Thanks to Broadcom not supporting libre software, wifi with bcm43xx drivers used to be an issue ...see http://bcm43xx.berlios.de/ and http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drivers/b43. Earlier, ubuntu 8.10 brought out networking issues on my laptop which worked flawlessly in one city (Bangalore) but suddenly even a wired connection failed. Kinda odd to have no Lan but no  jumping loops for wi-fi drivers because in recent versions of Ubuntu (8.10 onwards) the device driver hardware was detected automagically. After loading Ubuntu (a clean install once in 2 years is better than an upgrade), the user has the option to activate a non-free drivers for Broadcom wi-fi cards so device drivers dont have to be manually loaded now. I cant recall if its from the ugly set of plug-ins and hence less supported.   Anyway, the The ethernet cable would detect a direct connection in Vista but not in my Debian and Ubuntu installations. Time to wade through a list of "lan not working in Ubuntu" bugs for every other laptop model and there was another kernel bug filed but that was an issue I faced in ver 8.10 and before. A few minutes of experimenting and wading through help forums didnt help the LAN detection problem. Then I checked /etc/NetworkManager/nm-system-settings.conf

[main]
plugins=ifupdown,keyfile

[ifupdown]
managed=false

and changed the above value to "true" and then "sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart" solved the lan problem.