I've given up. In the process I learned an important lesson. Know your distro.
It took me a lot of trial and error but I finally learned this particular laptop runs the Xandros distro, and I learned what that means. This is the distro formerly known as Linspire, and before that known as Lindows.
It's not a lot of fun.
While it is complicateed getting a Debian version of Open Office onto your Linux laptop it can be done. With Xandros it's both simpler and harder.
Simpler, because the only place you can go for such software is a distribution list run by the vendor. Click and go. Xandros is based on Debian.
Harder, because if that doesn't work you are done. I tried to get Open Office through the list, and got a very complex error message for my trouble. When I contacted the manufacturer, I was told the answer was somewhere in Taiwan.
Still, there is good to report. While in Texas for a funeral I brought the 1000 with me. While earlier generations might have scratched their heads over it, I found one relative, around my own age, who had some wisdom.
Dennis Smith (above) has seen these things before. He immediately went to work inside a console window (the Linux equivalent of getting a C: prompt.) This was not his first rodeo.
He then gave me an important bit of wisdom that's worth knowing. "Once you know you know, and until you know you don't know."
Translation. A knowledgeable user of Linux can find his way around any distro, and can be trusted with technical problems like installing software that Xandros doesn't trust people with. The rest can't.
Expanding user knowledge of Linux is going to grow the market, just as knowledge grew the early PC market. It starts from a higher base (we all know what a C: prompt is) but many are going back to square one, at first, when they pick a Linux laptop.
Over time the numbers of Dennises will grow and the number of Danas will decline. (I protect my stupidity like a rare gift.) But over time even the Danas learn, as I have. So the Linux laptop market is poised for better days.