Originally Posted by pixellany
... I don't know about RHEL 5, but RHEL 4 did not support SATA.
I installed RHEL 4 Update 4 (possibly as early as 2) on a few SunFire servers. They had dual SATA disks, and I had no trouble with the drivers with regard to booting. Update 4 came out shortly before RHEL 5, so RedHat may have added SATA support late in the game.
I think an SATA CD drive could be a stumbling block. Depending on the BIOS, you might be able alternatively to boot from a USB CD drive, if one is on hand -- easy to connect, easy to try, nothing lost except time.
But in general, try any of those pixellany listed -- Ubuntu is very easy to install, I did that this morning on a virtual machine to cross-check a problem a colleague was having ... cheers, makyo