Waterhead was correct, I opened up the case and took a look. For the most part everything looked pretty clean except for a fine layer of dust and a stray dog hair or two on the pci/sata card. I reseated the card in the PCI slot, changed out the sata cable, and tried using a different sata port on the card. I ran another benchmark and the dips you see in the 1st post are gone. Yay, glad to have gotten that sorted out. I'm actually typing this reply on the machine now. I'd put up a picture of the latest benchmark, but the picture upload/attachment function on this forum doesn't seem to be linux friendly unless I use another picture host.
Rgb, thanks for all the suggestions. Since this machine has gotten so bogged down on the latest UBUNTU release, I think I'll go ahead and switch the OS anyways.
Since you asked, here is the SATA card I have:
I didn't really specify all that I use this machine for, so using a dedicated server OS may not make the most sense.
Its main purpose is for backup of other machines on the network, as well as media server.
I occasionally use 'transmission' to download TV shows when my PVR misses an episode, or I need to get caught up on a new series we are interested.
I like transmission because my Android phone has a nifty front end to it that I can use to control it, although I'm sure there are similar offerings from other torrent clients.
Occasionally I'll use it to surf the web out of boredom, since it sits next to my work computer and I don't like using my work computer for such purpose.
I also use it as a print server for the 4 laptops (1 linux, 2 windows 7, one mac) on the network.
I recently installed a DNLA server called 'Servillo' on it, although I haven't gotten it working completely. I do like the idea of it though.
EDIT: Another thing, some time after 10.04 UBUNTU I lost the ability to view flash video on websites like firefox, etc. It would be nice to have that back.
I may be flamed for admitting this, but I really don't have a problem with Unity. I've gotten used to it and in some situations I actually prefer it. Of-course, in some situations I prefer gnome. The machine in question isn't really set up for Unity though, lacking any 3d acceleration I'm forced into Unity 2d. Here are the specs:
Memory: 1.2 GB
Processor: AMD Sempron(tm) 2200+
Graphics: VESA: 6330
OS Type: 32-bit
Disk: 37.7 GB (This is the system drive - the 640 gig drive I mentioned is only for storage)
I can install and configure Samba if need be for file/print sharing. So really I need more of a lightweight desktop solution that can do file/print sharing.