Setting up a Web Server
For those who wish to manage their own Web server, this activity
describes the steps required to set up your own Web server. In order to set up a Web server, you
need a dedicated computer (PC or Macintosh) running Windows/95, Windows/NT, or Linux or a Macintosh
computer running MacOS. You also need a direct Internet connection and TCP/IP software. You can
download shareware HTTP software for these platforms and operate your own Web server.
- Learn how to find and download shareware software for a Web server.
- Learn about PC/Windows and Macintosh Web server programs that are available.
- Learn what is required to set up a Web server.
- Learn where to find additional information on setting up a Web server.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and
software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We
assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer with the necessary
hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as a World Wide Web browser. In the
section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in
addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
Special hardware requirements: none.
Special software requirements: none.
Internet access: High-speed connection (greater than 28,800 BPS).
The tasks below lead you through the process of setting up your
own Web server. While the process described is necessarily incomplete, it is offered as a
guide to the things you must do to successfully set up a Web server. Links to software (for
networking, HTTP, CGI, etc.) are provided to encourage you to gather your own toolkit of
Web server products. Commercial software is also available, including Netscape's Communication
Server (available free to educational institutions) and Microsoft's Internet Information Server,
for both PC and Macintosh platforms (see Internet Resources below).
- Step 1 - The computer: A Web server requires a dedicated computer that is directly connected to the
Internet, usually through an ethernet network (LAN/WAN). You can run a Web server on a low-end
computer (80386-based PC or 68040 Macintosh), but if you want your server to be responsive to Web
surfers you should probably use a more powerful computer (such as a Pentium or PowerPC-based Macintosh).
A Web server needs a fast and large hard drive and should have lots of RAM (over 16 MB).
- Step 2 - The operating system software: The following operating systems can support a
Web server: Windows/NT, Windows/95, MacOS, Unix, and Linux. Of these, most of the existing Web servers
run on Windows/NT, MacOS (on a PowerMac) or Unix. Linux is a PC/DOS-based version of Unix.
- Step 3 - The networking software: All Internet computers need TCP/IP, and a Web server is
no exception. As stated above, your computer should be directly connected to the Internet and thus may
require appropriate ethernet software.
- Step 4 - The Web server software: There are a variety of Web server programs available
for a variety of platforms, from Unix to DOS machines. For the Macintosh,
a popular Web server is WebStar from StarNine (see Internet Resources below). For the Windows/NT platform,
both Microsoft and Netscape offer a powerful Web server program free to educational institutions (see
Internet Resources below). Download or purchase the Web server software and install it on your
computer using the instructions provided.
- Step 5 - Configuring your Web server: Whey you install your Web server, you will be prompted
for basic settings - default directory or folder, whether to allow visitors to see the contents of a directory
or folder, where to store the log file, etc. Depending on the Web software you install, you will have
to configure the software per the instructions that come with it.
- Step 6 - Managing your Web server: As your Web server is accessed by more and more people,
you may need to monitor the log file to see which files people are reading, identify peak access
times, and consider upgrading your computer. You can always add more RAM and disk space to your
Web server computer to improve its performance. Also check for bottlenecks - such as your TCP/IP
software. For example, Open Transport 1.1 from Apple has been modified to support faster TCP/IP
access if installed on a Web server.
- Step 7 - Getting more information on operating a Web server: For more information on
finding, downloading, installing, and operating a Web server, see the Internet Resources below. For
example, Web66 has information on setting up a Macintosh and Windows/95 Web server, and there are
many other useful resources available.
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