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How to host web site in our own web server

Posted on 2004-08-02
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Last Modified: 2010-04-20
My level is at HTML, Javascript, C, and so forth.  I can do some simple web pages.

I will buy a web server, two file servers, and two e-mails servers for my small business.

I like to host our own websites and employees' e-mail system.  In the future, I may want to do ISP business and expand my business.

I like to know that what kind of softwares we need to meet the needs.  Is that difficult to do?  Any books for me to read?  

Thank you all.
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Question by:wzhu58
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humeniuk earned 250 total points
ID: 11699556
This is a huge question, so this will be a very general overview.  Feel free to ask more specific questions afterwards.

First you have to decide which server software you want to use.  The two I'm somewhat familiar with are Windows Server 2000/2003 (now comes in web server edition, in case you want to use it as a dedicated web server only) and Apache, which I have less access to.  Apache will run on Windows, but you're more likely to find it with Linux/Unix.  If you are experienced and proficient with Linux, that's probably the best route for you.  If you're going to go that way, look at www.easyphp.org - they offer a combined package of Apache / MySQL (database) / PHP / phpMyAdmin which is damn good (this is the LAMP track - Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP - hard to beat).

If not, you're probably better off with Windows.  Almost everyone is familiar with Windows to some degree and if so, Windows Server/IIS is fairly easy to learn.  IIS is Internet Information Server, which is the web server part of Windows.  The bad news: Windows is more expensive (LAMP is free) and has higher hardware requirements.

You can find piles of books on each of these.  I like the Sybex books (www.sybex.com) myself, but there are several good ones available.

Once you have your server set up and properly configured, you will need a domain name (or more than one if you want to host multiple web sites).  You can register domains with any one of a number of domain registrars.  I use www.godaddy.com and have no trouble recommending them.

Once you have your domain name, you have to configure it to point to a name server.  A name server is a DNS server, which essentially translates the domain name into an IP address (like 64.54.123.12) by which people can find your web server.  Ideally, you want a static (unchanging) IP address from your ISP.  If you use a hosting company, you typically use their name servers.  If you are hosting yourself, you can either set up a DNS server that is exposed to the internet and register it with you domain registrar or you can use a DNS service like www.zoneedit.com (a free service).

Like I said, this is a VERY general overview of the process.  Please feel free to ask some specific follow-up questions.
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by:yuzh
yuzh earned 250 total points
ID: 11700364
I would suggest you to use Linux or Solaris X 86 (for Intel) as the Operating system,
more stable, secure, and less virus to worry about than M$ Windows, and you don't
need to reboot the server every year. And you can also enjoy the open source software
(free).

For WebServer, you need apache + MySQL + PHP + SSL (they are free for *nix -
Linux/Unix).

You can also use a Linux PC for you mail servers. use sendmail + procmail + webmail
(free) .

Since you are running a small business, you can ask your ISP to host DNS server and mail repay (mail smart host) for you, only the Websever, Mail servers need to have
proper DNS record.

The downsite for using Linux/Unix is that you need to have someone has experience to
look after the servers.

MS W2k server or Winndows 2003 also can do the job, it will cost you mony for the
server license and the application license, it is easier to use than Linux/Unix. And you
have to worry about virus all the time.

For file server, you can use Linux, or just simply use MS file sharing.

For more details, you can post question in the following TAs:
      Webserver:
      http://www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Web_Servers/Apache/

      OS:
       http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Win2000/
       http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Windows_Server_2003/
       http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Linux/
       http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Solaris/

      Email:
       *nix:
       http://www.experts-exchange.com/Networking/Email_Groupware/Sendmail/

       M$ Windows:
       http://www.experts-exchange.com/Networking/Email_Groupware/Exchange_Server/



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Expert Comment

by:CajunBill
ID: 11712603
Oh boy!
Technology sure is fun - but it will take a lot of time.
Is technology the core of your small business?
If not, read below for a quick hint of what it will take.

In addition to the five computers you have said you would buy, there are at least two complex layers of software for each one: operating system, and application (web server, mail server).  In addition to basic configuration of the computers, operating systems and applications so that they simply work at all, there are security issues to handle with them all - unless you think that for some reason no one will hack your site (they will!).   On top of that, there are the physical issues: clean, secure electrical power (OK, you can buy decent UPS for maybe fifty dollars each), reasonable physical security (so no one walks off with the machines).  Then, on top of setting up the systems initially, there is the ongoing systems administration: backups (assuming you have important business data on there) (and don't forget to set up ongoing offsite backups), upgrades (to stay ahead of the hackers), and software cleanup (such as deleting old accounts as employees come and go).
And remember, all this stuff is just a quick list - it doesn't go into the details.

I love technology, so all this stuff is great fun for me - but is it the business that you are in?
You might want to consider (1) starting smaller, say one combined server for web and email, and one for file server; or (2) even better, go to a web hosting company for your web site and email.  Let the web hosting company worry about network security, physical security, backups, electricity, etc.

Getting into all this is like having a baby - looks real cute, but there is a lot more work to it than first appears.
You can of course do it, if you put in the effort.
But how much time and effort can you spare from your real business?
How does all this time and effort fit into your business plan?

Regards
CajunBill
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11718163
Great points from CajunBill.

<< Getting into all this is like having a baby - looks real cute, but there is a lot more work to it than first appears. >>
Hilarious.  I'm going to steal that one.

When it comes to technology, don't DIY unless you have a good reason to DIY.  I hesitate to say this because I have been taken to task in the past for questioning what someone wanted to do rather than telling them how to do what they wanted to do.  However, CB went first, so if this is out of line, it's his fault :-)

As all three answers point out, carrying out your plan is an extremely complex undertaking.  In any good book store, you will find numerous books of 1000 or so pages on any of the multiple issues that have been touched on in each of the responses.

This is not meant to discourage you.  You probably have legitimate reasons for wanting to proceed in this way. Nevertheless, I want to reinforce CB's point that if your business is dependent on this stuff, you will absolutely need to do it right and will absolutely need to have someone with direct knowledge and practical experience or you will run the risk of (1) leaving your system vulnerable to security or administrative oversights (either of which can be costly) or (2) compromising your core business by devoting too much of your time and resources to your IT infrastructure.

As an independent consultant, my largest individual contract is a direct result of a client's decision to bring their web/email hosting in-house (against my advice, btw).  Everything is working fine and they have no complaints, but time has proven decisively that they chose the more complex, more expensive option.
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11721767
wzhu58,

You posted about this in my feedback.  Was that meant to be posted in the thread?  If so, may I copy in to the thread so everyone else can see it as well?
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Expert Comment

by:yuzh
ID: 11722733
Hi wzhu58,
   
   <Off Topic>
    You should post the question infor in the question area, not in member's feedback.
    As a Page Editor at EE, I can read them, but other experts might not be able to read
    what you want to do.
    I'll delete this "Off Topic" session.
    <Off Topic>

    You have some experiences with Iris (Silicon Graphics), it will make life easier for
you to pick Linux, most of the command line commands are the same, but as as
a sys adm, there are a lot of differences between each *nix favour!

    If you want to use Linux, ask a expert to setup a firewall + Web/mail + proxy
server for you. (Software is free the labour is NOT!).
    Then all the other PC, workstation etc go out to intenet via the firewall/proxy server.
so that it can protect all you machine fron hacker etc.

     Then you can spend time to learn Linux, a lot of online docs/tutorials on the web.

     eg:
     http://www.linux.org
     http://www.distrowatch.com/index.php?language=EN
     http://www.tldp.org/LDP/lame/LAME/linux-admin-made-easy/
     http://linux-newbie.sunsite.dk/
     http://librenix.com/?inode=2750
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11728569
To all posters:

I received an email from wzhu58 saying that she is having trouble posting due to some technical problems.  So, I am copying her comments from my feedback to the thread so everyone can comment.

wzhu58:

"Hi, Thank you all for replying me.

I have my own web site (http://www.goldensourceusa.com), which I use other ISP.  I use FTP to send the htmls to the remote site.  I also have my e-mail account through the same ISP.  

This ISP lost all my e-mails twice.  Now, for some other reason, I like to have my own server to hold my files, e-mails, and the web.   Later on, we may need to become an ISP (not decided yet).

I like to buy servers.  and place the above web site on my own server and make a couple of e-mails accounts, such as service@goldensourceusa.com, questions@goldensourceusa.com, and a couple of employee e-mail accounts.   That's all I need to do.  Later, when I have more money, I will hire server experts.  Now, I don't have the money to do it.  

I used UNIX serveral years with Silicon Graphics before.  I still remember something about Unix, which was said not too far from Linux.  

humeniuk mentioned the price about the windows system.  yuzh talked about the stability, security, and virus issues for the Linux system.  These are all under my consideration.  

Currently, I only need to place the above web to my server and set up a couple of e-mail account.  Here are my questions.  If I choose the Linux system, what kind of Linux PC I have to buy?  Can I buy Dell and install Linux system?

What kind of commands I can use to publish my web files, delete them, and overwrite them?  What kind of commands I can use to set up e-mail accounts, delete them, and modify them?  I am asking a networking company to get me a Static IP Address and T1.  Is the DNS my Static IP Address?  If not, how can I set up a DNS?  Is that easy to host totally 2 websites (2 domains)?  Is the Linux sendmail + procmail + webmail with any Linux PC or I need to download them?  If I select a windows system, I need the answers for the same questions for the OS.  My problem is that I don't know how to handle a server.  But, I don't need to do complicated server tasks at all.

Thanks again."
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11729222
yuzh has Linux covered, so I'll mention a few things about Windows.  I don't disagree with yuzh, I'm just presenting an alternative.

First, a comment about Windows vs. Linux.  Much of what yuzh said about the relative security of the two systems is commonly accepted.  Personally, I think that Windows 2003 has come a long way in addressing most of those concerns.  In my estimation, there remain two primary problems with Windows: (1) the antagonism towards Microsoft for unfair business practices, releasing sub-standard products (hence the M$ reference in yuzh's post :-) makes their products more of a target for viruses and other forms of aggression than Linux or another other OS as does the fact that Microsoft's huge market share makes them the biggest and easiest target; and (2) the strength of Windows is that it is user-friendly, almost anyone can learn to set up a functioning Win2k3 server/IIS6 box fairly quickly, but this is also one of its weaknesses for the simple reason that if it can be set up without significant technical proficiency, it follows that there are far more improperly configured (and thus, more vulnerable) Windows Servers than Linux servers.

If you want to read a bunch of interesting comments regarding the relative merits of Windows and Linux, you can check out these two related threads:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Security/Linux_Security/Q_21027721.html
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Security/Win_Security/Q_21027726.html


If you chose Windows, you would likely use Windows 2003 Server with IIS6 for web and Exchange 2003 for email.  Microsoft's iis6 site: www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/iis/default.mspx provides lots of info, downloads, the 'iis community', etc. and is a good place to start.  For a great overview on setting up IIS6, check out this tutorial: www.simongibson.com/intranet/iis6.  For Exchange 2003 tutorials, see: www.msexchange.org/articles_tutorials/Exchange_Server_2003/.  To set up your own DNS server on Win2k3 Server, see www.simongibson.com/intranet/dns2003/.

Also important: 'Secure an IIS Web server with these 10 steps' at techrepublic.com.com/5100-6264_11-5226103.html.

Finally,
<< My problem is that I don't know how to handle a server.  But, I don't need to do complicated server tasks at all.  >>
This is a concern.  Security is a complicated server task and you absolutely have to pay attention to it (and get it right) whether you are using Linux or Windows.
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Expert Comment

by:yuzh
ID: 11732360
This is a very big question. humeniuk gave very good infor. I just add a bit more:

"What kind of commands I can use to publish my web files, delete them, and overwrite them?  What kind of commands I can use to set up e-mail accounts, delete them, and modify them?  I am asking a networking company to get me a Static IP Address and T1."

For Website publish, you can in Linux you can use cp, tar, ftp, rm commands to do the
job. or You can use a M$ windows PC with FTP client (eg, WS FTP) to transfer your
webpages. If you can afford to spend a bit more money, you can use softeware package
to do the job, eg: "Macromedia Dreamweaver" or "NetObject Fusion" or "FrontPage"
comes with M$ Office.

"Macromedia Dreamweaver" or "NetObject Fusion" are good packages.

"What kind of commands I can use to set up e-mail accounts, delete them"
when you use Linux, a Linux system user have a email account, therefore
useradd, userdel are the commands to used.

Use can use GUI tools to do the job, eg:
webmin:
http://www.webmin.com
http://librenix.com/?inode=4714
http://librenix.com/?inode=351
http://www.sitepoint.com/print/webmin-linux-administration-1

For Firewall:
http://www.fwbuilder.org/

BTW, Linux can run on almost any PC.

" how can I set up a DNS?  Is that easy to host totally 2 websites (2 domains)? "
If you know what to do, it is easy job, you can run 2 or more website with one server,
by setting up VirtualHost.
(if you don't want too much down time in case something goes wrong, make a backup
server.)

Let the ISP handle the DNS for you (it is too much for you to worry about when you start!). unilt you have time to learn how or can afford to pay someone to do it for
you.



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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11734879
<<  Let the ISP handle the DNS for you (it is too much for you to worry about when you start!). until you have time to learn how or can afford to pay someone to do it for  >>

Good advice.  Along those lines, since you only want a few email addresses, consider using an outside provider for that as well.  As mentioned above, I use www.godaddy.com as my domain registrar.  They offer a number of services, including email services.  If you leave your DNS in the hands of your ISP and your email with an outside provider (ie. your registrar), you only have to worry about the web server, which is a more comfortable starting point than dealing with a web server, mail server, and DNS servers.


<<  "Macromedia Dreamweaver" or "NetObject Fusion" are good packages.  >>

I use Dreamweaver and think it's great (I have no experience with NetObject Fusion).  I also have used CuteFTP to transfer files, but rarely use it anymore since I started using the FTP capabilities in Dreamweaver.
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Expert Comment

by:yuzh
ID: 11734951
<<  "Macromedia Dreamweaver" or "NetObject Fusion"
I have used both of them, they are good packages, with built in
publishing function (ftp).
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Author Comment

by:wzhu58
ID: 11753219
Thank you all for answering my questions.

I will come to fine help again.

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Author Comment

by:wzhu58
ID: 11753268
Hi I splited the points for humeniuk and yuzh for 250 each.  If you don't receive correctly, please contact me to wzhu58@hotmail.com.  Thank you all for help
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11753316
Glad to see everything is working properly again.
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