Setting Up a Mac Web Server

2000 – So, you want to setup a web server on your Mac.

First, you must ask yourself why you want a web server. If you want a web server just to impress your friends, or maybe just for a weekend project, then you are in luck, because I will show you how to quickly and easily setup a web server for free!

Before we start, you must have a few basic things. First, you will need a Macintosh (any Mac will do) with at least 7 MB of free memory and System 7.5 or newer. Even if you have just one Mac, you will still be able to run this web server (in the background with a performance hit). Second, you will need some sort of network (see my notes on networking). Finally, you will need an HTML document so people will actually see something when they connect to your server.

Networking Notes

You can run a web server off of a modem, however the problem is that most modems use DHCP or PPP, and these usually give you a different IP address every time you connect to the Internet. This is fine if you could have your modem connected to the Internet 24 hours a day. However, we all know that modems hang up once in a while.

Cable modem users and ADSL users often use DHCP as well; however, their IP addresses tend to change far less often, so it will be much easier to host a web server on cable or ADSL.

If you are simply using the web server on an intranet (a network that is not connected to the outside world), then you will be fine. Some solutions to the people with DHCP are as follows:

  1. Get a web site with Xoom, Geocities, or some other free hosting service and simply update the link to your web site as your IP address changes.
  2. Get a service from someone such as Dynip.com, who allows you to have a sub-domain name off of their network (your_sub_domain.dynip.com) for a small fee each year. The way it works is they give you an application that sends your IP address every 15 to 30 seconds, and they update their DNS (domain name server) each time so that when you type in “your_sub_domain.dynip.com” it goes to your computer each time.

Of course, web sites hosted off modems are slow, but if you just have text and a few small pictures, it might be fine for you.

Server Software

Once you have the minimum requirements, it is time to get the web server software. It just so happens that there is a free web server for Mac called Quid Pro Quo [discontinued]. This is not crippled, nor is it lacking in features. It has Java and CGI support, remote administration, extensive logging, and many other features you would expect to find in a professional web server package.

Once you have downloaded Quid Pro Quo, you should install it. If you do the full install, you will get Java support, as well as an extension that will enable you to remotely restart your computer. The minimum install will just put the web server application on your computer.

Before you run the program, create a folder somewhere on your hard drive where you would like to store your website documents. I called mine web and put it within the Quid Pro Quo folder for ease of use.

Next, you will launch the application, and it will ask you a few questions.

  1. Leave the port at 80, because that’s the standard port every website is at, and it’s what web browsers expect. If you plan on only having a few select users, then you could change it to keep out general web surfers. Changing the port number does not offer any kind of security; it merely deters the average web surfer.
  2. Name the server anything you want – this name does not effect the web server’s operation.
  3. Leave all settings as default until the Users and Groups settings. If you already have an Apple file server, you can have Quid Pro Quo use Apple’s Users and Groups security for ease of use. However, this can significantly slow down the web server.
  4. Put in a user name and password – and make sure they are not easy to guess, since people will be able to access your computer remotely.
  5. For the root folder, select the folder we made before running the Quid Pro Quo server (the one I named web).

These are the basic settings you need to have your web server running, but, before you can view anything on your new website, you must make a new HTML document called index.html and put it in your root web folder (the web folder I called web) The reason the file must be called index.html is because that is the file the web server looks for when you type in just the address of the site, such as http://27.0.0.0/. If you had a file named mywebsite.html, the user would have to type in http://27.0.0.0/mywebsite.html. Naming the file index.html just simplifies the process of typing in the web address.

To test your web server, simply open your browser, type in the IP address of your computer (remember to read the networking information for details), and your web page should appear. Now go show all your friends and watch them be impressed.

Quid Pro Quo has many other great features that I will not cover here, but the application does have a great bubble help system to guide you through setting them up.

Keywords: #webserver #quidproquo

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