I've spent *lots* of time farting around with drivers on Linux.
I've had that before as well, but a long time ago.. <voice=old geezer> Why, it was back in the summer of....</voice>
The most "fun" is when the kernel included in the distribution doesn't support the network hardware, leaving you to dig for kernel updates on another machine, put them on a USB drive, and sneakernet them over.
That I've only ever experienced on Windows. I can't recall ever having network hardware issues on Linux. Not even broadcom wifi (or is it RealTek that lots of Windows fans say "you can never use this in Linux?", can't recall). I think the last hardware issue I had with Linux was with a lexmark printer, maybe in 2012 or so. Have never had problems with networking on it (at least none that come to mind).