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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Installing Web Server on your PC

Why install web server on your own PC?

Running C++ programs or finding error (syntax) is as easy as clicking on the Compile button but that is not the case with PHP. You have to first upload the script file to the server to run it or to find any errors. As with anybody, peoples make lots of syntax mistakes in the beginning when they learn a new language. So sending back and forth scripts from your PC to the server every time you forget a ‘;’ here or a ‘,’ there via FTP is not something many would like to do.

If you have a server set-up on your own PC then it’s as simple as copy and paste, there would be no need of FTP or anything of that sort. Write the script, put it in the special folder (created by the web server) and there you are.

This is by far the main reason that makes people install web servers on their home PC.

What does installing a web server do?

Nothing, in the sense that your PC runs the way it used to.

It installs various programs and services which listens to HTTP (and other web requests) and serves content. It creates a special folder ‘htdocs’ whose contents are made public (or accessible) via the server. When you request the local IP address http://127.0.0.1 or http://localhost, the contents of that folder is served.

For example, my PC has Apache server installed at D:\Program Files\ and has the htdocs folder at D:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\htdocs so when I type the address 127.0.0.1, I see the contents of the htdocs folder via the Apache server.

One thing to note here is that requesting that folder from HTTP request and via My Computer (or anything) is totally different. When you request the IP address of the local server, you are served content as per the configuration of the server, it makes sure what and how contents are to be served.

Which web server should I Install?

There are many web servers available but the BEST and of course the most popular (besides being free) is Apache server. So you shouldn’t give a second thought to other servers.

Where to get Apache and PHP from?

You may download latest versions of Apache from Apache Download and PHP from PHP Download or you may use the direct download links for Apache and PHP.

In the next post we’ll see how to install and configure Apache and PHP, till then good bye to all and thanks for reading.

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