Linux Server and Home Web Hosting
If you are interested in web design or development you should have some local test place where you can check and debug websites. If you are doing this professionally you will probably invest in a real web server. But if you are doing this for fun or the reliability and speed is not a problem then you can have a simple solution with minimal investment–own Linux server. There are also some simple and effective solutions with applications like WampServer or EesyPHP. You can use them and have a good testing ecosystem. However, having a dedicated Linux computer offers many opportunities for additional roles. In addition to this, a physical web server running Linux is a very close approximation of the real hosting ecosystem. To install and use such server you need no special knowledge or skills. All you need is access to the internet and computer with web browser.
To set up a small but useful Linux server you need a computer. Your old computer that was replaced with a new fancy multi-chief machine is a perfect candidate for this project. Linux operating system usually runs on any machine so you should not be concerned about the processor speed or the amount of RAM. If you are new to Linux you should learn some basic tips by browsing the web. There are many websites that provide step by step instructions on how to download and install Linux on any computer. The most important rule about solving any problem is to simply Google for it. Every problem you may encounter during installation or customization is somewhere already mentioned together with possible solutions or hints.
After you have a running Linux computer you should check if networking is working and if it boots without any errors. Then you need to install web server software. For this you will need at the minimum Apache, MySQL and PHP. To upload files you will also need a FTP server software. To find out how to install applications you should again check web resources where you will find every step described in details. Before you can test your home hosting you should configure Apache for shared hosting and create few directories for your projects. This should be enough for basic web development.
Now you can put some files in the www folder and they should be visible in your browser. Simply go into the IP address of your Linux computer into the address bar of your browser and you should get your default website. You can add a line to your hosts file where you can associate a name with the IP address of the server. Then you will be able to access the server with this name.
An additional upgrade of the server can be some software to allow access from windows computers. For this purpose you can install a Samba file server which will allow you to access www or any other folder from the explorer in any Windows computer. With a Linux system running on your old computer you can get much more than just a testing ecosystem for web development.