Somehow I've gone and downloaded and installed Ubuntu Server Edition.
Just before throwing out a geriatric Gericom running Windows ME, I decided to see if I couldn't use it to get to grips with running a simple server. A quick search later turned up mikjp's suggestion for using a stripped down version of Ubuntu Server.
The download seems to be going slow so leave it going through the night, remembering to alter the energy saver preferences to avoid the laptop going to sleep halfway through. Never too sure if this is neccessary, but I can't bear the thought of the chance of it happening for lengthy downloads.
Come back in the morning to find that the download has stopped before completion: 20MB is missing. Try again, and a few hours later drag the iso image to a CD-ROM for burning.
I open up the Gericom and find that the brief scrunching sound it made as I trod on it the previous evening has cracked the screen. Fortunately most damage is on the righthand side so for minimal use it seems ok. I'll check out possible health hazards later.
Try and fail to get the laptop to boot up using the CD. Previous use of GAG as a boot manager just goes straight to Windows ME. Can't find the uninstall feature even when using the GAG boot disk that I do, miraculously, find (although this procedure might have worked).
Get rid of GAG using FDISK /MBR instead. Gericom refuses to boot from CD. Search and search for a way to get into the BIOS, lots of tips for possible key combinations including here, but to no avail since there's no delete key on the Gericom.
Remember that the German keyboard on the Gericom uses 'entfernen' (entf) for 'delete' and that quickly sorts the issue. Start to remember how much I hated having to use german terminology in the interface. Press on and change the boot order putting CD-ROM in position 1 and reboot. Windows ME boots up, again.
Remember glimpsing a bit about the iso image needing to have been unpacked to the CD, rather than just copied in. Burn a new CD using disk utility this time as this automatically does the unpacking bit necessary and boot up the Gericom.
Up comes a message about laptop hardware being i686 and not supporting 64 bit. Prepare for another through the night download session, this time selecting the 32 bit version of Ubuntu Server.
Use disk utility to burn the iso image to the CD, boot up the Gericom, Ubuntu Server edition installs, I select English as the default language, select an option for Samba to be included in the installation. and put in a user name and password.
A command line appears.
A few minutes later I reminisce about the time in Milan when, with a flat tire, I discovered that I couldn't speak a word of Italian.
I hold down the power button for a few seconds.
The screen goes dead.