I've got a fairly new Dell desktop machine that's pretty sweet. i7 processor, 12 GB RAM, the only thing it's missing is a solid state hard drive. The thing runs Win7 (just a life support system for Adobe Creative Cloud as far as I'm concerned), but I wanted to learn the ins and outs of managing a Linux server.
I bought a second hard drive for this box (1 TB for $70 at Office Depot), unhooked the existing hard drive because I'm a sissy, afraid of possibly overwriting my Win 7 disk and put the new one in. I've got a pair of books on managing Ubuntu servers and both come with 12.04 installation disks.
I installed Ubuntu server version 12.04 and ... couldn't get the thing to pick up a DHCP address from my router. In fact, I couldn't get it to do anything at all on the network. It knew it had an ethernet adapter and could set it up, but beyond that, it was lost.
It turns out that this is a known bug with version 12.04. There were fixes posted on the web, many of which I tried, but to no avail. I learned things about the command line and requesting status from running services, but in the end I gave up. Too much learnings!
12.04 being a bit old, I went online, got the latest version - 14.10, made an installation CD and installed that. It worked right out of the box.
Now, off to learn how Creative Cloud apps work with a server.