Now as anyone who knows me me will confirm, I have always been a long admirer of VMWare and their suite of excellent virtualisation products. I started with Workstation before switching to Fusion on OS X and finally made the jump to the way cool ESXi a few years back (I blogged about this here).
Recently however, I am finding less and less time to install guest linux OS, configuring it for use with an Oracle Database (or Application Server), making sure all the RPM's, kernel values are correct etc. Yes you can use the Oracle Validated Packages to help simplify this (see Tims comments below for how to obtain these) but what I really value these days is the simplest configuration for home / home office use that is pretty much turn on and play.
After a quick trawl of the Virtual Appliances section of the VM Market Place, I was left wanting until I remembered that Oracle were now dabbling in the Virtual Machine space.
After a quick dl of VirtualBox (their virtualisation offering) and a pre-built development database, I was up an running within 30 mins. Firthermore I have it running on 2G of memory and 1 CPU locally on my MacBook Pro.
I must say I was very impressed with the build of the VM itself, the interface of VirtualBox and just how simple it was to get a "throw away" vm running that covers 99% of my day to day needs.
I have to admit, I am struggling to justify moving back to a costed option of VMWare and can only see the number of pre-built virtual machines increasing, plus it's the best price... free (however if you want to run this outside of a lab environment, I would strongly recommend joining the Oracle Premier Support program).
Good job Oracle.