An annoyance when working on the settings of a network is that the PC used for the task becomes part of that network and depending on the job, looses Internet connectivity. Even if a 3G stick or second network adapter is used, DHCP settings, which are part of the setup mingle with the PCs settings and again cut the Internet connection. A hassle I have now found a remedy for: Wi-Fi in a Virtual Machine.
A few weeks ago I had a post on how to do 3G testing in a virtual machine but this did not extend to working in wired or Wi-Fi network. But by simply getting a USB Wi-Fi stick and making it available to the guest operating system running in the virtual machine, working on a network is completely isolated from the host computer. The picture on the left shows how this looks in practice. The host operating system uses the built in Wi-Fi chip while the guest operating system (Windows XP in the window) uses a USB Wi-Fi stick and connects to the network to be configured. No matter what is done there and how that affects the client operating system, the host operating system (Ubuntu in my case) is entirely unaffected from the changes as it uses a different network and Internet connectivity remains in place.
And if you have enough RAM you can even launch two or three virtual machines simultaneously, each using a different Wi-Fi or 3G dongle connecting to different networks. Great for testing VPN solutions, NATing, etc. etc. The more I play with Virtual machines, the more uses I find for them.