Thanks for looking into this for me, folks. I'll have to investigate some of the alternate keyboards on the market in a couple of weeks -- good to know that at least one will (quirkily) work.
Oh, and @5thWiggle, seems that Terminal app doesn't have permission to write to /sdcard (or any other place in on-board memory that I could find). I don't have a mini-sd plugged in yet, so I don't know about that. I ran out of time while trying to convince Terminal to talk to /media/USB0.
@Filark -- thanks for your best wishes. Having a PE waiting for me is a good motivator.