I wouldn't say that FreeBSD is elitist. As you've discovered for yourself, hardware is problematic in Open Source. Sometimes it is because the hardware vendor doesn't release specs, requiring developers to reverse engineer how the device works in order to create the driver. Even if the specs are released, the developer may not have access to the hardware to fully test the driver; even if he does, he certainly doesn't have the money to test that device and the driver on every motherboard/CPU combination out there.
One of the best ways end-users can assist projects is to go to their website and read up on their bug submittal process. They'll either have a database or a twiki and will have suggestions on what to put in your report to most assist the developer. Most also provide a search facility so you can research if the bug is a known issue. This you can do for free, it only takes a bit of your time.
If you also have a bit of money, search for the project's hardware wishlist. You may just find that a developer needs a piece of hardware that you'd love to see working on that operating system.