Well to answer the questions hehehe - The dvd's/cd's do boot off other machines, so I know the disks themselves aren't the culprit.
The PSU is a few years old (under 5). I bought it new, and it was in use in my primary system. When I went from a low end video card to dual Nvidia gaming cards on that system, I swapped out the PSU for a 1000watt unit. It hasn't been used in the past year or two.
The video card on this server is, well - basic. 8MB AGP. Nothing fancy at all. Since I'm going to be doing everything from a console base, I don't see the reason to put anything more powerful in. It was the smallest AGP video card I had sitting around in my collection-o-old-misc-parts.
Thinking power issue, I disconnected the power to ALL the hard drives, fans, etc. Brought everything down to absolute bare basics. Just the motherboard and the dvd-rom were getting power. It did the exact same thing with freshly burned CD's.
The only thing I haven't done was hook the 2 DVD rom drives to my primary PC and test their functionality. The CDROM was working previously as I've used it for other server applications (once I install the server OS I don't leave the cdrom on it - can be used for other things). The Sata DVD burner I also tested with was something from work. We decommissioned parts from a few older systems. We usually replace the burners from the desktop pc's to standard readers, so we had a bunch of spare sata burners. As they were never really ever used, I just figured it would be good. But hind sight is always 20/20. I'm not sure how or where they were stored so its possible some damage may have happened. I'll have to test the unit's on my main pc to see if they are functioning. The units are seen by the BIOS. Set in the boot order as the primary boot device. The lights flash on the Rom drives during post, and the drive motor kicks in on them briefly. So you can see how it seems like they are working, but unfortunately this doesn't test the read head.
As it is right now I've remove the power to all the drives except for the dvd burner, on my main system. I've connected the 16gb Solid State IDE drive to that system, and started the install of Ubuntu Server 10.04 to it. The SSD will be the root drive. The other drives will be media storage drives. I was hoping setup LVM during install on them so that I can keep the IDE drives for music and photos, and use raid 0+1 to stripe the Sata drives for use for the videos. Its harder to setup LVM post install but not impossible. I just have limited spare time and I've wasted much with this issue so far. I'm also no master at Linux by any means of the imagination so I'm going to have to find a few guides to set this up. Again - No biggy. I'm patient, I'll find a way to make things work
It might just boil down to me using 1 ide for music, and the other ide for photos.
I am a bit disappointed at the speed of which write transactions happen on the SSD, but I'm hoping it makes it up while booting and loading of modules. This server is going to be a big expandable NAS.. well more like a DLNA media server which will serve videos and music to my western digital set-top receiver unit. That's the only thing it will be used for. I'll administer everything through SSH from my laptop or primary pc on the second floor, including the uploading of the media. With the cost of Sata drives dropping so quickly, I can see me putting in a few more TB before long. Sata cards are fairly dirt cheap to. When I start putting more drives in it, then I will look at going to a 1000watt PSU for this project. But right now I think with the OLD motherboard and cpu that is being used, the low end graphics card, 3 fans and the hard drives, that the 500 watt "should" handle it.
I just went to http://extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine
which is a PSU Calculator. Based on the information I entered, minimum required psu is around 263 watts, with the recommended being around 313 watts. Since its a 500watt psu, it "should" handle everything just fine in theory. Another thing I'll try on the motherboard itself is to reset it to factory defaults. I'm not sure if this MB was ever overclocked. If so, that can be wreaking havoc. I just thought of this now.