Re: Wanting to start on the right track
Hi docJ and welcome to the forums and to Linux/Ubuntu in general.
Others are bound to give different advice, with very valid reasoning, but here is mine:
I do not recommend Ubuntu for your desired usage, not because it makes a poor server (in fact, it makes an excellent server) but because you are not yet familiar enough with Ubuntu or Linux to leverage it into a critical usage role.
In short, the drawback to Linux in your case is not technical, but experiential.
I give such a recommendation with something of a heavy heart. I use nothing but Linux on my servers and they work incredibly well. However, in my experience, there is no such thing as a maintenance-free server, and once they require maintenance, you want to be working on a platform with which you are familiar. Otherwise, they will leave you with nothing but frustration and long periods of downtime which, in the case of a server, is not acceptable.
I strongly suggest that you fulfill your curiosity about this wonderful OS in a non-critical, non-production environment first. Perhaps a spare box that you are not using for anything else, or in a dual boot environment on your current desktop box, or even in a virtual machine running inside Windows. You want to be thoroughly comfortable with Ubuntu before committing to its use as a server.
Just my two pennies worth.
Newb: How far must I jump to clear the ledge halfway down?
Guru: It's bad to jump off cliffs. Let's look at better options.
Newb: Stop harping about "best practices" and just tell me.