If you ever needed to quickly build a distributed environment for development, consider using the free VMware Player. This last Friday, I was working at Panera and needed to test some distributed aspects of our application, so I took a shot at using the Browser Appliance VM as my server. Since the Browser Appliance is just a stripped down Ubuntu installation, you can use the Synaptic Package Manager to install the necessary libraries for development (the Getting Started Guide provided by VMware has instructions on how to use the Synaptic, as well as information on getting root privileges on the VM).
The trickiest part was installing Java on Ubuntu, which requires some tricks since Sun’s Java for Linux is packaged as an RPM. Overall, this is a nice setup, since this allows you to create a nice and portable client-server environment. It also nicely avoids any issues with developers stepping over each other which occurs when working on the same development server.