My First Linux Server, Part 1 - page 3
Easy Linux, Easy
Any leftover, surplus, outmoded, underpowered PC is perfect for your first Linux server project. Linux runs on any Intel 386, 486, Pentium (called i586), Pentium II (called i686) and newer platforms, as well as many other CPUs. 128 MB RAM is quite adequate for a test system, and you will need around 10GB of hard disk space. The purpose of this exercise is to quickly build a Linux platform and then learn the basics of configuring a useful small business server. Then you can repeat the process on larger, faster platforms for go into heavy server production.
While you wait for the CD shipment to arrive, it is well worth it to clean up the PC as much as possible. You can keep Windows applications intact if you wish, and you will be able to use this computer for both Windows and Linux. Minimize the Windows footprint on the system by removing all unnecessary applications and files, and back up any files you might need later. Clean up the registry, defragment the disks and run a careful virus scan.
Also note that you may need Linux drivers for some of the cards and devices you have installed, so make a paper list of manufacturers and model numbers of all of the cards, CD drives, hard disks and motherboard. (Note that a driver is just a small piece of software that links the operating system to other devices such as printers and hard disks). The Linux CDs probably have the correct drivers for these devices, but if you need to search for a Linux driver, the list comes in handy.
The Linux installation starts by booting from a CD, so the CD-ROM drive must be the first boot source your computer looks for. This may entail changing some settings in what is called the BIOS--Basic Input/Output System--this can be likened in some ways to the starter motor in a car. The BIOS is what makes a turned off computer come to life. Go into the BIOS settings and change the boot sequence to put the CD-ROM drive first. It may sound complex, but it is relatively simple. If this gives you any trouble, any somewhat technically inclined associate should be able to sort it out for you in 30 seconds.