After fighting to install moodle 2.x for a while, I found a site that had moodle 2.3 already installed and configured as a vmware appliance. So you boot it up in vmware and it runs a virtual instance of the server on your box. No install needed and you can easily revert back to a previous version if your changes break things.
The appliance is from here:
VMWare player, the latest free lite version of the software can be found here:
I followed the directions here to get the player loaded onto my Ubuntu 12.04 laptop:
This is very similar to images on ESX servers based on the high end vmware software.
VMWare might grab your mouse and not let go, hit the control and alt keys at the same time to get your mouse back.
There are a lot of other virtual appliances all configured and ready to go at this site: