Katman401, to BC Forums!
I have that very same PC sitting in the closet, was placed in there the morning my XPS 8700 in sig below was delivered. It should run Linux Mint 17.1 "MATE" 32 bit edition fine. Plays movies & other media out of the box. Though as my colleague buddy215 has noted, you'll need a HDD, and chances are, you'll have to find a used one on eBay or elsewhere. If so, Do Not purchase any so called "White Label" HDD's, or other off brand that looks like popular branded drives. These are 3rd party refurbished, and unlike the OEM refurbishing process, isn't to the same standards. I once made the mistake of purchasing one & the one with over 1,000 hours ran better. HDD's are supposed to be remanufactured in a medically sterile & climate controlled environment. 3rd party refurbishers could be done from anywhere & all it takes is dust, lint, pollen, anything, to land on those drive while rebuilt, and the result is immediate performance loss, followed by a short life.
You can get used ones for $20 or so. As you'll read below, please let my mistakes be your lesson, do not pour a lot of cash into this PC. There is good reason why mine is in the closet.
You will need to do one thing during the install phase though, during the automatic boot countdown, press the Tab button, arrow key down to Force PAE Mode (or similar wording) for it to install. The reason is, while Mint 13 is for PAE & non-PAE computers (older 32 bit CPU's), most newer versions of Linux are PAE only. Linux Mint 17.1 MATE edition removed a shackle for many by having Force PAE by choice in that menu, rather than having to manually enter it, which never worked for me.
I don't recall the Xfce version having this option, as I tried Mint 17 Xfce three times on a similar aged one, and would have seen the choice there at least once.
Forget Mint Cinnamon on that one, many much newer computers doesn't meet the basic graphic requirements, which are higher than Windows 7 for best looks.
It was just today that I installed Mint 17.1 MATE on that T42 ThinkPad, and the screenshots are in a Topic I created here (Post #20).
Hopefully this is a signal that others will follow to compete, that PAE enforcement is like a shackle, forcing users to run either older editions that will be unsupported in just a couple of years, and the added penalty of having less features as a result of that in some cases. Mint is already the #1 Linux OS, this newly released out of the box option will only serve to make their following larger,
Plus as one can see in those pictures that the Start Menu is much like that of Windows.
I'm not saying that the latest Ubuntu doesn't offer the same by default, but at the same time, have heard no one say it's non-PAE supported out of the box either. Too, it's more graphic intense, kind of like Windows 8 in that perspective, having to type in the first few letters of an app, then clicking onto at at the top as it appears. If you've downloaded the latest Ubuntu, boot into it from your Windows 7 computer & see, the install media serves as a live OS at the same time.
One other thing to mention, since I have that same PC. Though I upgraded the CPU to the max, to a P4 (Northwood) 3.06GHz with H/T CPU, the biggest difference I seen was that it kept my legs warmer, it gave at best, a 15% increase of system speed, and here's one of the reasons why. That CPU & MB chipset has only a 512MiB L2 cache, whereas the T42 ThinkPad on the pic above has a 2MiB one. It's not all about the CPU's GHz output, though if it ran XP OK, you should still be fine, it's just something you need to know. Had I known that to begin with, would have sought another MB for it, the one in the Dimension 4600 was reported to be a great replacement, at least it had slots for 4GB total RAM.
That was another useless upgrade for me, was jumping from 768MiB (a 256 & 512MiB was paired together when I got it) to 2GiB, I really didn't see $60 worth of performance, the sticks were purchased at Newegg. I threw too much cash into that computer, enough to be sitting here with a 256GiB Samsung 850 Pro at least, and will never make the same mistake again.
Did I also mention that I purchased a SATA card (Rosewill RC-212) to add a SATA HDD that I had on hand, and optical drive that was purchased for it, it found a resting place in another PC that I got at a good deal.
If you've downloaded the latest 32 bit version of Ubuntu, you can try it, boot & see if it has the Force PAE Mode offered (boots just as Mint above), if it'll boot, try it out. My suspicions are that Ubuntu is too graphical for that PC, and the 512MB L2 cache will be a lot to overcome, but what's there but a DVD to lose?
Oh, and before I leave this post, you'll need the original PS/2 keyboard to change the boot order to make the DVD boot first, on mine, a USB keyboard wouldn't allow me to make changes.
No matter what we're here to help.