Here is what I did.
I bought a Sandisk Cruzer Extreme (these things rock).
1. Download the ubuntu Server instance (this will keep memory low)
2. Install VirtualBox.
3. Create that virtual machine and install (pointing to your usb drive, or if you already have an SSD then that I suppose).
4. Basically we want a very minimal install, so don't put any of the LAMP stuff in, basically if it says "Hey should I install this extra wiz bang thing?". Say no
5. Install samba (sudo apt-get install samba)
6. Setup a configuration similar to the following:
6a. Create a folder (whatever you want to name it) in your home folder.
6b. chmod the shared folder to this: sudo chmod 777 folder
6c. Update samba configuration (from /etc/samba/smb.conf) replacing path with the folder you created in 6a.
7. Once that was all setup, I start making linked clones for various tasks, I.E. Ruby Machine, NodeJS Machine, etc (be sure that network is set to NAT, in this case I have a HTTP Proxy that is a hassle, so this is my workaround, you may have a better way and I'd love to hear it.)
7a. So select your Ubuntu Server, right click clone,
7b. Give it a good descriptive name when it asks,
7c. When prompted select LINKED clone, this gives you a standard setup, but clean environment!
8. Logging in I see that occasionally my network takes FOREVER to come up, so that's because of some oddball thing so remove this file and it should resolve it, you're welcome to google around but you'll probably find that deleting this file is the solution:
sudo rm /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules
9. after installing everything you need. halt the machine, shut down, and change the network adapter to Bridged, boot your VM up again, your local machine should be able to see the samba drives at \\
Now whenever you want to work, you can startup the Linked Clone and start playing (and reference the folder you setup so you can work from your local machine with all your custom setups, just to play).