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thank you for your thoughts Xavier!
unfortunately i am currently unemployed and would love one of the many 500-700mhz cpu's i gave away in the last few years. i'll be buying a used one on ebay or the goodwill store i'm sure. dave r
If you want to run a fancy GUI like KDE or Gnome, I'd recommend 256 MB of RAM as a bare minimum and 512 MB if you want to be really comfortable about it. You can tweak these GUIs to use fewer resources, and there are lighter weight GUIs available such as fluxbox. For light server work (no GUI) I've run a variety of Linux and BSD systems comfortably on 300-400 MHz Pentium IIs and less than 128 MB of RAM. For more demanding server apps or desktop usage, you'll need more.
As a reference, the “slowest” system I have FC4 (with gnome and kde) running on is a P-3 650MHz with 192MB RAM and a 20GB ATA/66 hard drive, but with a new PCI IDE controller card, which costs about US$25.
It's not unpleasant to use, but a faster hard drive, a faster CPU and more RAM, in that order, make a big difference in performance. I see boxes like this (without the controller card, monitor, mouse or printer) selling on ebay for around US$20-$50 before shipping, which should be in the $20-$30 range, but is often much higher (scumbag ebay sellers make a lot of money on shipping, so beware).