I am a debian guy, so I will suggest Ubuntu. Ubuntu releases a new version every six months or so, and has awsome driver support. The wireless card may very will be supported.
Try the livecd from ubuntu, which you can run directly from the cd to try out, and it won't touch your harddrive. Boot up the cd, and you can check to see if the wireless is recognized.
If you want xp and linux on the same computer, and want xp to run at native speeds, virutualization might a be a bit slow. What i would recommend is that he dual boot, meaning xp and ubuntu live on the same computer.
This is easy to do, first install xp. Then install ubuntu. Ubuntu will resize your harddrive and make space for itself, while keeping windows there.
When the computer boots, it will give you the option of either booting linux or xp.
hope that helps