Okay, this requires a little bit of a story. I have a laptop that I'm currently using as a desktop (it's the most powerful PC in the house...). I also have two old Dell desktops (Pent 4, 512MB of RAM, on-board graphics... nothing too powerful). I've combined the two desktops (meaning, placed the hard drive from one into the other), and would like to use the storage space from the two hard drives with as little hassle as possible.
Basically, I'm asking how to turn them into some kind of media server so that I can store my music library on those twin hard drives in the desktop, and access it from my laptop. I saw a tutorial on using Samba in Ubuntu 12.04 to allow file sharing between Windows 7 and Ubuntu on my network. This would be great, except for the fact that my desktop hardware doesn't seem to be powerful enough for the latest versions of Ubuntu. I have 13.04 successfully installed, but the app launcher and top bar don't appear, and neither do window buttons or borders. I'm guessing this is because the later versions of Ubuntu aren't compatible with the 10 year old motherboard-integrated graphics.
So my question is... which distribution besides Ubuntu would allow me to (easily) turn that desktop into one giant shared folder, and is lightweight enough to run well on such an old system?
And before anyone suggests upgrades or "just buy an external HDD"... I'm obviously trying to avoid spending any cash on this particular project. And I'd rather put our old desktops to use, rather than having them sat in the closet collecting dust for another 10 years.
Thanks in advance for any help.