Virtualization Tools and Software is your starting point for properly sandbox testing any application or operating system. A good virtualization program will allow you to test a variety of hardware configurations and software configurations, near seamlessly, all within this protected environment on your host operating system.
vmware, vmware, parallels, win virtual pc, qemu, kvm, xenserver,
Download ISO or prepare ISO
I prefer the latest iteration of Ubuntu. Test out a few and then use what works best for your application.