I've a 4G 701 and wired Ethernet works out of the box in 8.04... I think it should work in 7.10. Obviously some hardware differences between your 2G Surf and mine but even so...
Boot yon sucker up and open a terminal. Go super user (sudo su - or if like me you set a root password just su) and lets see.
lspci on my 4G gives me:
If you don't see two ethernet controllers listed you could have some really odd hardware or BIOS issue, it should show up even without a cable connected. Next, plug a cable in.
01:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR242x 802.11abg Wireless PCI Express Adapter (rev 01)
03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Attansic Technology Corp. L2 100 Mbit Ethernet Adapter (rev a0)
Then do dmesg
You should see loads of text scroll up the screen, what we want will be the last few lines where the netdetect routine figures out a cable is plugged in. Assuming you see that, do an ifconfig eth0
This is my deactivated eth0 (I'm on wireless ATM), if something has appeared when you issued the command then good. If you see it mention IP Address then even better. Smack the network-manager around and see if it'll play ball; it should automagically start hunting around for a DHCP server to get an address from.
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:1f:c6:7b:1e:ee
UP BROADCAST MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
RX bytes:0 (0.0 B) TX bytes:0 (0.0 B)
Issue the command: ping www.google.com and see if you get a response (assuming you've got an IP). It it fails to resolve, you get zero responses ever I'd be inclined to sniff at your network.
Wireless is fairly easy. Easier than figuring out WTF is wrong with your wired ethernet
One deft reboot later and Network Manager should be able to control the Atheros card (it did on my 4G until I replaced it with wcid).
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y -f build-essential module-assistant
tar zxf madwifi-nr-r3366+ar5007.tar.gz
sudo make install
BTW doing an 8.04 install never crashed for me doing login, but I do have enough internal storage to have the whole distro on the SSD. You might want to poke around the Ubuntu community resources and the eeeuser.com forums as I'm sure I remember something you had to do with the key manager if you were going totally from a SD card.