Greetings everyone

I've been using Ubuntu as my main OS on my laptop for school, but other than a few basic shell commands and a little toying with ssh I feel like I haven't learned a whole lot about linux. A friend sold me a bunch of computer components for cheap and I was thinking about using the components to build a server, the problem is I don't really know anything about servers. I know there are several tutorials on this site that can help me figure it out, but even then I have no idea where I should start. I know almost nothing about shell scripting and I have a pretty basic grasp of programming (some work with python, vbasic, and java).

Also, I was wanting to try a more demanding distro for my server.

Can anyone recommend a starting point? Thanks!