Building a Web Server

The web server of choice for so much of the open source community is Apache. Currently at version 2, this project originated in 1992 and was called a "patchy" web server, because of its ad hoc development processes in the early years. It has since flourished into one of the most-used pieces of software in the world, running about 50 percent of all web sites on the Internet.

The power of Apache comes from its flexibility with modules. This allows an efficient and secure core able to enlist the functionality of supplementary code that can be loaded and unloaded at will. Naturally, each module provides another opportunity to open unintentional security holes, so we'll install only the modules you need. For these primary purposes, you need only the basic server and a scripting language. The Debian packages are installed with the following:

apt-get install apache2 libapache2-mod-php5

Other distributions are similarly named. Once it's installed, you can point your browser to localhost where you should see the "congratulations" web page, stored by default in /var/www, thus proving the web server works. You can then test the scripting module by creating a page called test. php containing the following:

Generally, the installation of these modules will also correctly configure them so that .php files are associated with the execution of the PHP module. If this is not apparent, you can enable the module with this:

a2enmod php5

In the very unlikely event of these not working, a log is kept in /var/log/apache2/error.log. A lot of important traffic relies on a working web server, so it is worth the time to ensure it's stable.

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