New answers tagged update
I have now resolved this issue. It appears that the maxFeatures setting is under layer.protocol.options.maxFeatures. I now have two references but updating both has the desired impact.
Upgrade to QGIS 1.8: http://hub.qgis.org/projects/quantum-gis/wiki/Download#26-Ubuntu The problem is your sip is too new to work with the older 1.7 release.
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