Server considerations

Most developers already have machines that act as World Wide Web clients, running Mosaic, Netscape, or another browser, connecting to servers via phone lines or other connections. The main point of setting up a micro-network for Web development is to have control of a server, the machine that stores, transmits, and processes documents. Servers run programs that wait for user requests and fill their demands. For the Web, it's usually one form or another of HTTPD, the Web 'daemon' program that monitors the network for requests and sends out HTML documents and graphics and processes incoming information. The protocol runs similarly on a wide variety of machines, but the details are always different.

The server is a conduit for information and not much more. You can use it for other projects, and run more than just Web projects on it, but I don't recommend using your server as a regular work machine. Runnning Microsoft Word and QuarkXPress and Photoshop on a machine that's also trying to manage HTML documents is asking for a crash. I'm writing this now on the machine I use as a server, but it's not in use as a server at all at the moment. Doubling up this way can save you a lot of money, but try to think of your server as a machine you'll use only through other computers as much as possible.

Before we look at specific servers, here are some general guidelines:

There are several platforms you can use for Web servers, each with its own quirks, advantages, and disadvantages: While you can use any of these platforms for a Web server if necessary, I really only recommend the first two for serious Web server development. Windows and Macintosh computers are great - but as clients and platforms for acquiring data, not as servers..

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Copyright 1995 by Simon St.Laurent. All rights reserved. You may print this document for yourself or others at no charge, but commercial distribution without permission is prohibited.

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