Previous installments of our Server Room DIY tutorial series looked at the idea of taking on the role of being your own web host, reviewed the requirements, and explained how to installed Apache and configure a local network.
Now, we will touch on configuring and managing the server software. In addition, we'll discover exactly how to get a purchased domain name (i.e., yourname.com) to work with your web server in the home or office.
Configuring and Managing Apache2Triad
If you installed the Apache2Triad package, you can move/publish/create your site in the htdocs folder. By default, this folder is located at C:apache2triadhtdocs, which is the folder accessed when users visit your web site.
The following folders reside in the htdocs folder, for the web interfaces and files for the packaged server components:
- apache2triadcp: GUI for Apache2Triad, which lets you configure and manage the server components and view their status
- awstats: Advanced web statistics or counter program tracks how visitors your site receives, what they access, how they find your site and much more
- phppgadmin: GUI for the PostgreSQL database server, where you can add/remove/edit the PostgreSQL databases and their data
- phpsqliteadmin: web-based GUI for administering SQLite databases
- phpmyadmin: GUI for administering the MySQL server, which is the database type you'll be likely to work with
- phpsftpd: This application lets you manage the SlimFTPD ftp server; add user accounts, get activity reports and change the server settings
- phpxmail: This is the GUI for the XMail e-mail server
- uebimiau: web-based e-mail client application that lets you send and receive e-mail from the XMail e-mail server.
Tip: Some of these folders aren't shown by default on the index or directory page that's shown when accessing your site without an index.htm or default page.
You can access these folders by typing in the folder name preceded by the server's address. If accessing from the same computer, for example, you could enter http://localhost/apache2triadcp to bring up the main control panel. Many of the interfaces are password protected, most set with the username root and the password you created during the installation. The Apache2Triad start menu directory contains a shortcut to the control panel and additional tools.
Configuring Your Domain Name
If you have purchased your own domain name for your web site, you must do a few things to get it to point to your web server. First, you need a Domain Name System (DNS) service, particularly where you have advanced control of the settings. Next, you must tell the DNS service the IP address of the Internet connection your server is running at. Finally, you'll tell your domain name registrar where you bought your name and the nameserver addresses of your DNS service. That's it in a nutshell; we'll go step-by-step in a moment.
Now when people around the world type in your domain name, the DNS service used by their Internet provider contacts your domain registrar for your nameservers. Then, the nameservers provide the IP address listed for your domain. Computers, networks and Internet servers can only communicate by using IP addresses; this is why they must consult a phonebook type of system to convert domain names into IP addresses. If DNS didn't exist, everyone would have to remember the IP address (e.g., 255.255.255.225) of each web site they visit.
All of this DNS talk isn't necessary if you use a web hosting company, which usually provides the DNS service. However, we're setting up our own server. Keep in mind, some domain registrars, such as Yahoo and GoDaddy, provide DNS service, while some don't if you aren't hosting your site with them. If your registrar provides it, use it, otherwise you can use a free DNS service, such as ZoneEdit.
Let's configure our DNS service, using ZoneEdit as an example:
- Complete the signup process for a free ZoneEdit account on their website.
- Login to your account and click the Add Zones link on the top of the page.
- Enter your domain name into the field, and click the Add Zone button.
- Click Edit Zone link on the top of the page, and then click your domain name.
- To assign an IP address to your domain name, click the IP addresses (A) link on the top of the page. Then in the Numeric IP field, enter the IP address of the Internet connection where your web server is located. Remember this is the WAN or Internet address, not the local IP address, such as starting with 192. Leave the Name field blank and click the Add New IP Address button.
- On the confirmation page, you probably want to select Yes for the first question, so your domain name will work with and without entering www into the web browser.
Now if your Internet connection has a dynamic (changing) IP address assigned rather than a static one, which most residential and small business connections do, you must download and configure a Dynamic DNS client program on the computer. This program detects when your Internet IP address changes and then notifies the ZoneEdit service, so it always points to your web server. ZoneEdit's website lists several clients for a variety of operating systems.
The last step is to change the nameserver settings. While logged into your ZoneEdit account, click the View link for your zone account to reference and copy the two nameservers; write down both the domain and IP address. Now, go to where you purchased your domain, which is your registrar, login to your account, and change the nameserver settings to the addresses you just received from ZoneEdit.
Remember, it can take several hours and up to two days, for all the servers on the Internet to update so your domain will point to your server.
Getting Further Help
If you find you need further help on configuring or using Apache, or other server applications, visit the respective web site. Frequently asked questions and discussion forums can be a lifesaver. Additionally, stay tuned here, you ought to find more useful tutorials.
Eric Geier is the Founder and President of Sky-Nets, Ltd., a Wi-Fi Hotspot Network. He is also the author of many networking and computing books, including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft® Windows Vista (Que 2007).