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WEB HOSTING HOW-TOS

Home Web Servers, Part 2: Software and Maintenance
By: Michael Swanson
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    2004-11-10

    Table of Contents:
  • Home Web Servers, Part 2: Software and Maintenance
  • Operating Systems
  • Web Server Software
  • Email Server
  • Mail Server Security
  • Scripting Software
  • Security

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    Home Web Servers, Part 2: Software and Maintenance - Scripting Software


    (Page 6 of 7 )

    This is the software that lets you do really cool stuff with your server. Install it after you have your Web server software up and working, so that you know you have a functional platform from which to begin. Usually installing this software will require some extra configuration of your Web server to make sure it is interfacing with the server properly.

    The server must also properly pass pages to be processed by the scripting engine for pre-processing before being shipped off to the client. If you are using ASP or ASP.NET, this software is generally either pre-installed (ASP) or simply requires you to download the .NET Framework to run on a Windows platform. PHP and Python require you to install them first, and then configure your Web server to pass files of those types correctly to the scripting engines for processing. If you plan to run any sort of forum software or other scripted content, you will need some flavor of this software. PHP and ASP/ASP.NET are currently the most popular, so you can find almost any sort of script you want for one of those two languages.

    Installing and Configuring Servers

    It may sound like running a Web server requires great amounts of time and energy, and often the beginning stages require some trial and error to get things working correctly. Keep in mind during the process that being as systematic as possible almost always works best. Never change more than one thing at a time, and test each change thoroughly.  When installing and setting up the actual server software and daemons, do not do intermix different parts of different servers. Set up each one in turn and make sure it works correctly and completely before moving on to the next. For example, when setting up a Web server, I would follow these steps:

    1. Read the online documentation on installing and initial configuration.
    2. Download and install the software.
    3. Perform initial set up.
    4. Check that you can access the server locally at the 127.0.0.1 address.
    5. Move to a computer on your local network and type your serverís local IP there to make sure you can access the server from behind the firewall, to make sure the server can get to other computers and you local firewall isnít interfering.
    6. Move to a computer outside the local network and check using your WAN IP to make sure your port pass-throughs on the router are working correctly.
    7. Finally, try on a computer outside the local network using the domain name to make sure you DNS is set up and functioning correctly.

    These are seven distinct steps for setting up some of the simplest software on your server.  When setting up a multi-part very complex server, such as email, you will definitely need many more steps. Most of the time, each step is very short, and simply consists of confirming that something is working the way you expect it to. However, if you run into a problem, you may need to consult documentation or online forums for a solution.

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