There's a peculiar issue right now with PHPUnit where it will not respect php.ini arguments supplied to it on the commandline (i.e. supplying -d arguments).
This matters a lot when you want to use xdebug on a project that runs off a virtual machine, or even perhaps a remote server.
The typical pattern (when using PHPStorm in my case) to invoke a remote cli debugging session is to set an environment variable telling the IDE what server configuration to use, and to tell PHP what remote host to connect to.
$ PHP_IDE_CONFIG='serverName=mydevmachine.local' php -dxdebug.remote_host=192.168.0.1 myphpscript.php
Now this will work fine, however if we want to debug during a phpunit test normally you would do this
$ PHP_IDE_CONFIG='serverName=mydevmachine.local' phpunit -dxdebug.remote_host=192.168.0.1 -c phpunit.xml
Unfortunately this doesn't appear to work at the moment (version 3.7.9). If I use the xdebug test client, I can see xdebug trying to connect to the localhost, ignoring what I've told PHPUnit. I'll look into this a bit more later, but I suspect PHPUnit isn't passing on the php.ini settings in a timely fashion for xdebug to hook into.
The solution to this problem is to make use of ssh port forwarding. This works exactly the same for a virtual machine as it would for a remote host, which makes xdebugging on a production machine (hopefully only ever in an emergency!!!) much more straight forward (and less insecure).
$ ssh -R 9000:localhost:9000 myvm.local
This sets up myvm.local to forward all connections to its localhost on port 9000 to the remote client's port 9000. When xdebug goes to connect to localhost:9000, it ends up actually connecting to mydevmachine.local:9000.
It's a bit of a hack, but a time saving one. The other alternative is Vim and its xdebug plugin. This isn't a bad alternative. But once you've experienced the power of PHPStorm's debugging implementation it's hard to go back.