I want to string a few old boxes together purely for experimentation and learning purposes - basically just a home lab separate from my primary machines.
To begin, I already plan to read quite a few related tutorials on the site here. But I can't really harden an install or grab a premium program if I don't have a distro picked out for this project yet - something I'm hoping for suggestions on.
I ran through the quiz on Tux Radar twice already - CentOS and Debian seem to be the best suggestions according to the survey results. Still, I was hoping to garner some personal opinions before I really tear in to this project.
Mint Cinnamon seems to be a popular suggestion for people transitioning over to Linux, but does it work well for networking? Does that actually matter?
I have "some" familiarity with Ubuntu, as I've installed that on various netbooks for about 5 or 6 years now (I'm a little hard on netbooks, taking them everywhere in all sorts of weather, which is why I've had so many over the years.) A few have been new and probably seen Ubuntu installing before Windows even had a chance to boot for the first time - I really like that distro, because for someone who only needed it to work without understanding too much, it just seemed to work every time! The latest distro I have is 14.4, I believe. However, visiting the website yesterday it seems they are up to 16 now.
In any case, I've spent many hours last night and this morning reading through various Linux posts here and it occurs to me that there are just so many options for experimenting that I have no idea where to begin.
The primary box that I would like to begin with is running an Intel dual-core 2.5GHz, 4GB RAM, NVIDIA GT 610, and 250 GB SATA II drive. I suspect this would probably be the best of the machines in this project - possibly use it as a server?
The second box sitting here is an old eMachine, exact specs unknown, but suspecting Intel Celeron processor, 2GB RAM, integrated graphics, and at least 80GB drive - again, all guesses on the specs because I've turned that machine on once since it was given to me 4 or 5 years ago. It did run when I first acquired it, but being Win XP, I had no immediate use for it - I just knew it would some day be a Linux project.
Probably one or two more boxes, specs to be determined - whatever I might be able to pick up at garage sales or eBay for cheap.
I have no idea exactly what my needs are since I've never experimented like this before. I'm hoping to learn more about both using Linux and creating Linux networks.
This is strictly hobby oriented, as my primary machines are already running Ubuntu on a netbook, OSX on a Macbook Pro, and Win 7 on a HP EliteBook (I refuse to upgrade past 7, so I'm running it until support ends, which will probably end my Windows experience forever.)
I don't think I'm attempting to setup a media center, at least not yet - who knows where experimenting will lead. Actually, I really don't know exactly what it is that I want to setup other than being able to learn. I don't know much about networking, so I definitely would like to focus on that. And I really like all the possibilities that Linux has to offer - so many distros and so many options for each one.
Eventually, I may even look to hosting a web server from home just for fun and experimenting - though, I'm fairly certain I will want a completely separate line (DSL, maybe?) coming in for that, as I expect that may also invite all sorts of trouble. Whatever, that's a little while away. For now, I'd just like to play with some local networking.
I apologize for such a long post, just hoping to provide as much info as possible. Hopefully someone here might even have already done this... Any advice and suggestions are much appreciated.