When I gave up my desktop ubuntu box, I had to find a good mobile solution for that could handle building and running about 7 java web servers with a mix of Oracle and Mysql dbs. i.e I wanted to be able to run the full stack on my mobile hardware.
After a year on the road, I’m very happy with my setup.
Lenovo Thinkpad W520
i7 2720QM 2.2Ghz Quad Core
500GB Sata 3 Drive w/ Windows 7 Pro
128FB SSD Drive for virtual OS’s
Toshiba USB Mobile Monitor 14 inch
I started out w/ dual boot linux and it was a royal PITA because of linux driver issues for some key thinkpad w520 devices. Also, got sick of recompiling so many drivers after every kernel update, and still having a wonky experience. Also, skype is a business requirement for me and I never could get microphone to run under linux. With the virtual vmware linux image running off SSD, I’ve been very happy. I honestly couldn’t discern a performance difference in my day to day development tasks between native and ssd virtual linux.
For running linux virtually on windows 7, vmware player was much more stable than virtualbox. I tried virtualbox for months at recommendation of our IT dept, but it just kept crashing and failing to restore the image after suspending it. Also, it couldn’t handle my portable dual monitor setup. Vmware Player seems to have much better drivers. I’m using our corporate ubuntu 10.04 LTS,and works fine except for sound and mic. Have to skype and play music directly from windows for both virtualbox and vmware.
Windows OS is on the big, cheap sata drive, and the linux vmware image is on the smaller, pricey SSD.
Everything is backed up and encrypted on a terabyte portable esata drive that I carry with me, and I periodically backup the entire vmware image to the cloud using CrashPlan Pro. Even if both my laptop and my external drive are stolen or damaged at the same time, I can still start developing again as soon as I’ve downloaded my backup vmware image from Crashplan onto whatever commodity laptop is available at latest location.
Very happy with speed of development environment for Java and mysql development, and the second monitor is a big plus.