If there is a dump, it will be dumped under the installation folders right under AppServer. You will have Heap dumps and Java Dumps shown here. You can use the free Dump Analyzer for both Java and Heap dumps written by an IBM associate.
Taking more than 12 minutes to start the WAS is not good. Check it you can start the WAS (using the same installation) in other machines. If the problem exists, try to get another cd. If the other machines are starting faster, i suggest reinstalling in your machine.
You can very well do anything you want. But it is a question whether your boss or colleagues will allow you to or if this is a product or application. Simple MVC is always the best one to incorporate since you can say the application is MVC!!
Not really. You can install the Portal server and deploy your WAR into it using admin console. This means that you will need to start and stop your server using the command. You will not run the portal server in your eclipse. But instead you will use the Portal server as a stand alone and your IDE as stand alone Dev application.
This is a problem with the zip or jar not seen or conflicting with another zip file in the class path. Please check if there are more than one zip file of the same present. Try changing the class loading policy too.