Trying SQLite and lighttpd
Now I'm wondering if the site wouldn't run better on SQLite and lighttp. But I don't want downtime while I'm transitioning. So which would be better:
Buy another Linode and set it up there
Run lighttpd on another port and test it on the current linode.
It won't be precisely the same, but it'll be pretty close, and do what you seek for testing purposes. Also helps with jotting down exact step by step to minimize the downtime for when it's done to the actual Linode.
(As an alternative to VMware, there's always Bochs, QEMU, or running it on an actual Linux box.)
Failing that, run lighttpd on another port and test would probably be better. I've run it once, and really is tiny and quick.