This project has taken a somewhat twisted tortured path.
Targeted hardware is a tossed (or redundant) P3 industrial ETX SBC with two dead COM ports and 256MB of RAM in a single PC133 stick. The USB 1.1/2.0 ports still work. The goal was to install everything into a small Compact Flash on board (built-in socket) so that there are no moving parts outside of the CPU fan. No monitor, keyboard or mouse. The two Ethernet ports still work although the RealTek one is far superior to the SIS chipset-internal E-port. One reason to use this junked CPU is that it can be dialed down to less than 500 MHz to further reduce the heat.
I decided not to use Windows XP Pro on the P3 board since it seemed to be a massive over-kill for something fairly straight-forward and simple. Maybe too simple. Besides I know Windows XP Pro will run in 256MB but its not going to be very happy and the swap file will eat a 1/4 of the drive if I have to run one.
I had problems at first getting both Ubuntu and Xubuntu to install (from CDROMs) in graphic mode with a displayable resolution even though I tried 2 different LCD panels. This problem caused me to start muttering about the bad-old days of Linux X-server woes, and so forth.
After that, I decided to use the text-mode install of the command line version of Xubuntu from a CDROM iso onto a 1 GB compact flash. Whoops, not enough drive space, even for the server configuration. WTF? Has Linux gotten that fat?
So at this point I'm downloading the ISO of the server version of Ubuntu 8.1 to see if I can jam that onto a 1 or 2GB CF. To be honest I'm not sure about it, the ISO is 637 MB, just shy of a fully-packed CDROM. De-compression will probably make it about 900 Megabytes, still likely to fill the CF once all the formatting and so forth is done on the CF.