|I'd be curious about the Linux distro you're using myself as I too suspect that's probably the issue you're having.|
I grabbed a couple old laptops from our PC department here at work to use when labbing things out and put FreeBSD on them. In order to make them work, I had to edit the /etc/rc.conf and add the appropriate lines to associate the wireless adapter with the wlan0 interface. Then I had to create a wp_supplicant file as well. Once I had those created and properly configured, the wireless works perfectly.
I don't use Linux myself but I wouldn't be surprised if you had to do something similar to get wireless working in your distro of Linux. I doubt it would be "plug and play" as Windows.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.