An old laptop that is going to be running a home server is going to be limited on computing resources, so it is worth looking into running your server with as little overhead as possible.
I was looking for the server to have less software so upgrading would be less of a hassle. Less software packages means less downloads, less chance of problems, and less dependency issues. Less also means more performance!
I tested out the Ubuntu Server since it seemed to be the most well built of the Linux server distros. I was not impressed.
The Live USB created in Linux Mint did not load. I needed to flash from Windows with USB Pen Drive and with Lili USB Creator. During installation, you need to select the type of server you want to run and the programs you will need, something I was not ready to select. After that, Ubuntu Server was installing GRUB onto the USB flash drive. I forget how I got around that but the installation would hang when creating the ext2 file system. After 1-2 hours to complete the installation, I had a command line. Trying to experiment with just a command line is annoying. I want a GUI to do updates, install software packages, use Google Chrome.
So after all of that, I wanted a normal Linux distro with some overhead of a GUI, a web browser, print drivers, and everything else. So I put Linux Mint on the laptop and installed server software that I needed, when I needed it.