Run Proxmox on old laptop – Try in case of ARM not working well.
ZimaBoard and ProxMox
ZimaBoard is a small x86 micro-server that very well could replace your Raspberry Pi. Featuring SATA, Dual Ethernet and PCIe this board can be molded to perfectly to fit your production and homelab needs.
We could learn more about virtualization etc relatively painlessly using a cheap board. Proxmox looks like a good thing to start off. Just install and use the web interface. Solving problems as they come up and you actually need to solve them is much more efficient than a course and the most expensive ZimaBoard is $200 so that’s a lot less than a Server Admin course.
Maybe some good prep stuff here first
Other Possibilities With Proxmox
ARM and Risc5 are preferable here due to low power consumption. AMD 64 etc tend to use a lot of power and since this will be on most of the time tha tmakes a difference.
Or VIM4 might be good too. 219 also, but 4 cores instead of 8 and 8G ram instead of 4.