Hello! I'm new to this site and just want to start off by saying that it is truly AWESOME! Love the comprehensive material and the welcome to Java newbies.
My husband is going to set up a virtual server for me and I'm wanting to learn a few products as I'm delving deeper into the Java language. I was thinking of a web server and an application server. Which products should I use for each that might have an easier learning curve...i.e. good starter products. Maybe I'm putting the cart before the horse, but I have looked through countless job ads and some familiar products keep coming up: Websphere, Apache, Tomcat, etc....I was really wanting to go for what employers are wanting, but will settle for what I will learn the most from first.
Also, my husband is asking me how much memory will be required to run these servers....
I'd start with Apache Tomcat. It's a Java web app container, but it does not support the full Java EE stack - just the web app part (servlets and JSPs).
For a fully featured Java EE server, I would look at Glassfish. It is the reference implementation for Java EE (which means that it is the official reference about how things should work with Java EE). It's easy to use, especially if you use the NetBeans IDE, because it comes with Glassfish bundled and has good integration for deploying, debugging etc. your web applications running on Glassfish.
How much memory is required entirely depends on what your web apps are going to need. The servers themselves don't need a lot of memory. For a good development PC, I'd go with at least 4 GB RAM. RAM is cheap these days.
Thanks for the advice! We currently have 4 gb now so that's great. I have both Eclipse IDE and NetBeans IDE. I do know I have glassfish w/Eclipse. I'm sure I'll be back to this site since I have to take the SCJP exam in a couple weeks I've learned enough to pass the Associate exam (which I've already passed) but based on practice questions for this exam, I'm a wee bit overwhelmed.