Wise Women List Archive File

Setting Up Your Own Web Server

A friend and I want to set up an infrastructure for hosting a website. Things like a web server, router, software needed, etc. We were thinking of a Unix server, RedHat Linux, Apache, etc, but what I really need to know is any online references that outlines how one would set up a website using their own machines (as opposed to going to get a web hosting account).

Hi. Just out of curiosity, why do you want to run your own Web server? It's my understanding that this can be a very difficult, frustrating thing to do, particularly if it's on a part-time basis. At a minimum, in addition to the equipment, you'll need a high-speed connection to the Internet and a dedicated IP address.

But don't not do it just because it's hard :-) I was just wondering why you want to.

Anyway, this seems to be a good site that describes how to do it: http://www.dslwebserver.com/

The things that come to mind:

Other questions that would need to be answered:

There are probably some other server considerations depending on what you want to use on your web site - like if you use PHP you'll actually have to load the PHP software on the server.

I'm definitely no expert in all of this so maybe this will spark some conversations with those more knowledgeable about servers. If not, maybe you can let us know more specifics and we can help you find more information?? I know a couple of great women who've set up their own servers or have experience with it that would be willing to give advice.

Don't forget the firewall. You will be a big fat target with your own server on the Internet and you will need to

- research a decent firewall (hardware or software) (depends on what you're doing for what you want)
- keep up with security patches on all your software on your server and firewall
- have some notification software (can be part of your firewall depending on what you get) to let you know when somebody has sneaked in and what they may have gotten into

general security policy stuff
http://www.sans.org/newlook/resources/policies/policies.htm http://www.staysafeonline.info/

good read for linux server security

I thought about doing this myself a few months ago but haven't actually gotten around to it. One word of caution that I received from others is to double check your service agreement once you get a high-speed connection. Many DSL providers specifically prohibit using the service to host a website. There may be exceptions for strictly personal sites vs. commercial sites, but there can be a hefty fine if they discover you've violated your agreement by hosting a site.

If you're new to Linux in general, there are plenty of helpful sites out there - http://www.linuxnewbie.org and http://www.linux.org are good resources & starting points. Once you start looking, you'll find there are lots more Linux sites out there.

I was directed to http://www.devshed.com/ for actually setting it up as a server but I never got that far so I can't help you past this point.

Good Luck and be sure to let us (well, me at least!) know how it all works out - this is similar to my "summer project" to get my old PC running Linux & Apache and learning PHP and MySql... I have a lot of projects :)

If I were setting up a server, I'd be drooling over this puppy: http://www.apple.com/powermac/server/

You should contact Telus regarding a T1 for dependable 2-way throughput, the lease of a T1 is around 1500.00/month CDN though this maybe different in your area. A T1 is expensive so a more affordable route for you might be in the form of the Telus ADSL service for businesses, I don't think they have a cap as it is geared towards businesses with their own servers etc. A web operating system and server like Linux or BSD http://www.freebsd.org/ with Apache is affordable and secure. A broadband router will suffice with its own NAT firewall, there are many available. And if you want a free router then there is the Linux Router project http://www.linuxrouter.org/ where you use a router on a floppy with say an old 486, there not just for door stops anymore.

A good tutorial for setting up a Linux and Apache web server can be found here: http://www.yolinux.com/TUTORIALS/LinuxTutorialWebSiteConfig.html

The Apache documentation project is useful http://httpd.apache.org/docs-2.0/, this is for 2.0 and it is included in the Apache download (Apache is included with all Linux distros) As far as the computer is concerned, speed is important if the site is to be accessed frequently which is why scsi components are so popular for servers. And high end cpus made for servers from the older Pentium Pro to the Xeon and the new AMD Hammer. Oh and lots of ram too. An associate in the U.S. is deploying a new web server in the spring and is going with a new Supermicro rack server http://www.supermicro.com/PRODUCT/SUPERServer/SuperServer6022P-6.htm with 16 gb of DDR memory and 2 Xeon 2 ghz cpus for their Linux server farm, mmm, 16 gigs of ram.....

Hope this helps.

Another good Linux security book (they have a Windows version too!) One of the few that also update their books.

Hacking Exposed - Network Security Secrets & Solutions (Windows and Unix) - just came out with the 3rd edition (be sure and get the latest edition)
Hacking Windows 2000 Exposed
Hacking Linux Exposed


Another matter to consider is how much time you can bear to spend on reading logs and security issues. With a server there are daily invasions. A metaphor could be that it's like burglaries, robberies, and shoplifting in retail stores. At a job longlong ago (and farfaraway) we dealt with daily attacks on 12 servers handling e-commerce for mundane items (electronic parts, mouthwash, etc). The attackers (when we traced them down) mostly came from China. I swore there were several how-to-hack courses being taught at schools in China and we were the homework. I repeat, the attacks were multiple and daily. It took a lot of time and a lot of fun out of it all.