Learning Linux / Wireless Issues

In windows, to configure a wireless card / interface, you would download the drivers / software and install them and then either use the software provided or the wireless zero config util to connect to wifi.

Moving over to Ubuntu there was something else in place - my drivers seemed to be automatically aquired and all I had to do was figure out how to use ifconfig to turn my wireless on, after figuring out which of my devices that was.

Now I've installed backtrack, and there seems to be a myriad of science to wade through just to connect to my wireless ( and for a while wired ) network at home.

Don't get me wrong, I wanna learn, I have a hungry hacker brain, but here's a list of things I've learnt so far in trying to get my wireless connection working

dhcpcd ( not installed on backtrack ? )
dhclient ( something to do with dhcp i guess - will research what that even is later >.< )
setting my ESSID & what essid is, setting wep key, and setting the channel ( wireless channels - who knew? not me )
installing programs with apt and using apt-get for installs

... and a plethora of forum searchings...

and guess what - still no wireless connection what so ever.
(I just wanna use my laptop in my bed - my back hurts - *cry*)

I'm thinking that maybe I'll have to download and install drivers, and look deeper into that topic, or perhaps I'll just figure out that I've slightly misused the iwconfig eth1 key "MYKEY" syntax,

I'm thinking to my self - maybe this is why people don't use linux...

again, don't get me wrong, one day I do want to know all about the structure of how all this works, and then some more about the underlying structure in place that holds up and supports that structure etc... but I don't want to have to learn it all now before I can do anything at all.

Where's the book or guide entitled 'Linux System Administration Basics' that I'd hoped to see on forum sites and the internet literally being thrust in my face by people saying: 'Don't ask me a damn thing until you've at LEAST read or referenced this book buddy!'

I long to read the chapter on wireless configuration, or how about the one that tells you how to even know what drivers and devices your system is running and whether they are the best ones or could be updated?

It nearly drove me mad about a hour ago when my blood sugar dropped just before I went and got some scones from the fridge to sort me out.

I need a reference that 'skims the surface and gives a basic but broad knowledge of linux systems' to get me started. Then when I think to myself - how does one do .... in linux? I might come up with some lead without having to go through lists of commands to look for one that sounds like it might help me, or try searching on forums only to find out that someone somewhere knows the "xcd(sdse"£$" command that will help me configure x so that I can use it with y and the "09fdlj" command...

Know what I mean?