Ubuntu password/wireless/newbie problem?

Sorry to be so vague, I have no idea what the problem actually is. I have a E-machine, that just had Linux (Ubuntu) installed on it. To make a long story short, a virus seemed to wipe out the Windows registry and I no longer have the product key, so the guy who fixed it* installed the above. I’ve always wanted to try out Linux so it wasn’t to big a deal and it’s not my main machine anyway so I figured the learning curve wouldn’t matter much. I’ve had it 4 days now enough to explore Open Office, check on my pics and documents and play solitaire.

Now however I’m wondering if I need to reinstall it because I haven’t been able to get online. I think I need to change the network settings so it can detect my wireless card but it won’t allow me access. Any ideas why this could be? Is there a way to fix this without reinstalling the OS? Will reinstalling the OS make me loose any data?
*Original problem was the power supply the Windows problem came up on testing.

I’m guessing it won’t allow you access to the network settings because you are logged in as a non-privileged user (which is how it should be). Did the person who set it up for you give you the “root” password?

He said the only password he set up was the one he gave me. That’s why I figured something was wrong.

Hmm, well, I’m afraid I don’t know much about Ubuntu specifically.

When you try to change the network settings, does it prompt you to authenticate yourself as an administrator (i.e. ask you for a password)?

You might try logging out and logging back in as user “root”. Maybe the default root password is blank. “Root” is the super-user/administrator account that is allowed to do anything.

If that does work, you should put a password on the root account while you’re at it.