A tool which I find absolutely vital when setting up or
testing any new system is VMware.
For those of you who have not used
VMware for systems testing or development, I suggest that you give it a
go. While the GSX and ESX application
server platforms are powerful tools, we are interested in VMware
Workstation. In a nutshell VM
Workstation allows you to run multiple virtual PCs on your desktop, full networking
support is included allowing you to play through test scenarios quickly taking
snapshots before making major changes, allowing you to roll back without
re-installation. You can also cone
machines, if you need to test interaction between two Windows XP machines,
simply install once, clone and then change the machine name / IP details. Many more features exist and the best way to
discover them is to have a play with the 30-day evaluation. You will probably notice later on that I test
most of my projects and new implementations in VMware; realistically you need
to allow 1GB of RAM and ~30GB+ disk space, but with hardware being cheap thesedays its well worth the expense.