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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

I have a win XP Pro machine connected to a 1mb broadband service in my home. I am interested in web servers and all that kind of thing, but don't really have a clue. I have a few questions I wonder if a couple of you guys could help me out?
1. Is a web server just a normal machine? Like a PC, that is dedicated to it's purpose?
2. How does a web server connect to the internet? is it through an Network Card?
3. Can you connect a web server directly to a home network, or does the internet have to be plugged straight into it?
4. What kind of software do I need to set one up?
5. What is the cheapest way I can set one up? (including purchasing one)

Thanks for your help guys.

Alex
 

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A web server is just another task running on your computer, you don't need a dedicated machine for it. A web server connects to the Internet the same way you do with IE, using TCP/IP protocol. If you have a broadband router, you'll have to configure the HTTP port (#80) for inbound traffic from the Internet for the web server. There are tons of free web servers from very simple to Apache. If you opt for something like Apache, be prepared to spend considerable time learning the system before you have a web site on-line.

FWIW, most broadband accounts give you web space external to your location, my website is on my Comcast space.
 

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First thing I would do is decide what O.S. you are going to be hosting on. Setting up a webserver on linux will be a bit different from windows or mac.

Second is to decide on the software. If going with windows you can purchase their web server software, or there are other options from free to very costly. If setting up with linux then you can opt to have apache installed when installing the O.S. in some cases.

I recomend setting a server up on a seperate machine. The reason why is because when you open it up to the internet you also open it up to people who would be willing to break into the machine and other threats. Atleast don't keep anything extremely important on it that you don't want others to get.

Most ISPs will offer a small amount of space to their customers, if not you get get hosting fairly cheap. Most places have plans that start at about $5 per month.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
ok, so if I buy a cheap machine with very low spec with say windows on it. 98/ME/XP whatever, then I would need to download this Apache thing. Then I network it so I have broadband then does this Apache do the rest? How much is it?
Thanks
 

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I would add that IT depends. The size of the server depends on what you want to do. A server is a computer which offers "services" to "clients". Hence the term "Client-Server".

So, the size of your server will depend on what you want to do with and how many clients you want to offer services. Do you want to offer a web page to friends and family? Or do you want to offer a web page to 50,000 simultaneous users and do transaction processing? I doubt the latter, but that's what the big guys do - banks, Amazon.com, Google, etc.

So, as was said, most "web" traffic is Hyper Text Transmission Protocol (HTTP). When you go to web page and the "http" appears in the address, this is what it means. It is a way for the web server to tell a browser how to display text.

So, if you want to do the friends and family site, then yes, all you need is a PC. As was said, be aware you are exposing it to the web and anyone can connect to it. So, defiinitely keep up to date on patches and service packs. Also follow some due diligence and disable unneeded services such as FTP, Telnet, SMTP, whatever else might be lurking about - such as Windows Scripting.

If you get Windows NT 4.0 or 2000 Server you can get Internet Information Server (IIS). There are also some web services you can run from a PC OS such as Win98 or 2000Pro, or XP. However, this is fairly dangerous as these are hard to lock down and could be easily compromised by a hacker.

If you want your server to be up all the time and be secure, you should probably run a server OS such as Linux Server or Windows 2000 or the forthcoming 2003 Server. Then you'll need a web service such as IIS on the server to run. If you want decent availability and performance, you'll have to look at "professional" hardware such as RAID, a good UPS, a lot of memory 1+ GB, etc.

As far as "connecting to the internet" The "pro" way to do it is to have a decent connection all the time - called "leased lines" and typically something called a "T-1" or better (1.54Mbps bothways), connected to a router which connects to a "demilitarized zone" (DMZ). The DMZ is created with the intent of putting "hardened hosts" where they can be accessed by the internet. The rest of your network is protected by a firewall off another connection of the router. A SOHO router can do this by having a single port for you to plug in a home based "server" to it and expose it to the net and protect the rest of your network with ports which are not DMZ.

After all the "infrastructure" is in place, you still have to design a web page and content! I don't deal much with this, but there are a lot of programs such FrontPage, ColdFusion, etc.

HTH! :)
 
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