Ubuntu is a graphical user interface: Home | Ubuntu
As is Puppy Linux: Puppy Linux Community Home - Getting Started
unlike the many, many different flavors of Linux out there.
And yes, the above programs will recognize your external devices just like Windows would.
You should not switch power supplies for any electronic devices (Phones, tablets, drives) without checking the power rating to be sure they match, or at least are very close.
But that procedure should have wiped out the Hub, not the laptop. There is a possibility that a power surge shorted something out and in doing so sent a charge up the data cable (jumping circuits).
These electronic devices are very complex in design. There are several protective circuits designed in that are meant to protect the device from run-of-the-mill errors. Some of these do act like circuit breakers and I seem to recall that the Southbridge circuit is ground fault protected on better motherboards. That might explain what you experienced somewhat.
Try resetting the laptop (worth a shot): Disconnect the Power, Remove the battery, then press and hold the power button down for 15 seconds or so. If the reset is successful you will need to go into the BIOS settings and enter the correct date and time.
If the system is protected by circuit breaker type device that might reset it.
But if the protection is more of a fuse type device, or the circuit is shorted and burnt, then repair will involve some electronics skill and equipment. This is where you bring it to a qualified repair shop and drop it off. They can test the circuits to determine the cause and tell you if it can be repaired with an estimate. That is where you decide if buying a new laptop makes more sense than repairing the old one.