So, back to rails. Got yet-another-project that seems like it should be right up rails' alley. Did a little bit of refresher reading tonight, and it seems like if I'd understood helpers, routing, and js templates better I might have avoided painting myself into a couple of corners during the last explorations in RoR-land.
Any rate, we'll see how this works out.
For the dev environment, I've decided to keep the XP64 desktop, but am currently running a series of VMware instances through Player to find a distro to work on. Will probably stick with Debian. I think I'm going to run with Netbeans as the IDE for now, but we'll see if that starts cramping my style and gets the hose or not.