Greetings -

I am planning on retiring my 8+ year-old Compaq Presario. The 512MB RAM is limiting my ability to run... just about anything. ;-) I would like to install Ubuntu/Mint on a Xeon X3440. I'm not interested in OCing or modern gaming, simply computing long-life and reliability.

What I would like to do is use Virtualbox to create VMs of several Windows ATA drives I have lying around (you know you have them too). And to create an environment in which to practice for my RHCT/RHCE.

Plus. My wife said I have to get rid of several of my old computers. ;-)

I am purchasing some of the components as they come on sale; case, PSU, CPU cooler, etc. I figure I'll have to bite the bullet for the CPU, MB, RAM and possibly HDDs/optical.

I was first intrigued by the MSI P55-GD65; I found DrMOS and SuperPipe seductive. But what I would like is a well-made board that would help keep my other components healthy; clean power, cooling, etc. I need SATA for the new devices, and ATA for my creaking-along IDE drives. I figure 6-8GB of ECC memory for running multiple VMs. And two 1TB drives in RAID-1 for peace of mind.

My graphics card can be lower-powered. I'm not big into any modern games. I have SpaceWard Ho! for Windows, Gazillionaire, Chaos Overlords, and Diablo II. I would like to try my hand at Kohan II. So mostly DOS-based games that would run in my Virtualbox'ized Windows XP.

My choice of distribution will be Ubuntu. Possibly Mint. I'll test them both out to see how I feel about them. I use Fedora/RedHat at work. But I've dabbled with Debian back during the days of Bo (1.2?). And I've been a VMS sysadmin in the past. So I'm pretty OS-agnostic. Whatever you're used to and whatever works. ;-)

So I need recommendations for a Linux-friendly P55 MB/video card combo. Or anything else you may think important/relevant; "And don't ride in anything with a Capissen 38 engine, they fall right out of the sky", for example.

I am very happy I've found this site. And an advance thanks for any and all help.