So, I've inherited an old 1U dual Itanium 1400Mhz server at work. The original OS is crapped out, so the user decided he'd replace it with a new one rather than upgrade the optical drive to a DVD and reinstall the OS. I get to keep it for "practice".
I'm a test lab support tech. I have very little Linux experience, but extensive Window Server experience. They hired me because of my Windows experience, and said I'd learn Linux as I go along. Basically, my job is to install OSes for various systems so that the testers can more quickly test various scenarios. (So far, I've installed more AIX than Linux or Windows.) They get paid 3 times what I do, so it is more cost effective for me to do the installs and the testers do their testing.
So, I'm new to the whole Linux thing, sort of, and I need to install a version of Linux on this old machine. I get 4GB of DDR-266, 4X 36GB SCSI SCA drives, an IDE CD ROM drive, (no DVD installs, of course) and a 4GB FC card for connecting to our external storage, if needed.
Anyone know a good distro of Linux I can use for this? It will likely be a DNS and basic storage server when I'm done, since our current DNS server is an old 32-bit P4 box with a couple bad fans.
I have no direct experience of this as I don't have an IA64 to play with (much as I'd love to). However, if part of the aim is to learn about Linux, then I'd recommend you consider Gentoo. This will let you tailor the system to your exact needs. Have a look at the excellent Gentoo Linux/IA64 Handbook.
I wouldn't recommend Gentoo to a casual user, but as you seem have experience of server systems I don't think you would have much difficulty installing it. And you'll certainly learn more than by just installing a pre-configured distro.
On the other hand, don't blinker yourself by just considering Linux. Have a think about FreeBSD or one of the other BSDs. They are usually considered more stable as server systems than Linux (but not as flashy and "cutting edge").