<< I am considering running windows on my ss51 and/or my old cele300 with an old Aopen mainboard wich functions as a fileserver for my home network..
Q: wich distro should I use for the ss51 (suse,mandrake,redhat...I have NO LINUX EXPERIENCE, so dont start discussing way over my head please...)
and why this distro... whats great about it, and whats not...
Since you have no Linux experience I would recommend Mandrake to start out on. The biggest reason is that it will set everything up for you. That is also a disadvantage later on when you learn more about it. It also has 'wizards' and such to help you manage your system, which unfortunately means you don't learn how to do it on your own. But for a newbie, this is great.
<< Q: wich distro should I use for the old cele300, and why?
You may want to try another (not Mandrake) distribution for that machine. Mandrake runs poorly on older machines if you can get it to install at all. I will let others make suggestions. You may also want to look at Distrowatch
<< I plan to use my ss51 as I do now under windows.. that is a machine for webBrowsing, divx/dvd-playback using tv-out, java development(student), playing mp3, photo-editing
webbrowsing: too many choices here from lynx to mozilla... netscape, opera, konqueror, galeon, skipstone to name the more popular ones.
divx/dvd: xine or mplayer are my recommendations
playing mp3: mpg321, mp3blaster are two good text based ones and without question xmms for X.
photo editing: I would use gimp. I am not sure if there is a better editor for linux.
<< my server will only do fileserving for my small home network and some mp3 playback and web + a bit of light office-work
NFS or Samba for network filesystems (Samba if you want Windows machines to be able to connect)
<< Open office equals M$ office as far as I know and support M$ office files too
There are several other office suites, too. OpenOffice, as far as I know, is the most advanced open source one.
<< sorry for this huge thread filled with Q's, but I would love to try linux, and I hope it will be a great experience....
Good luck with it and feel free to ask more specific questions. I am in a bit of a rush now