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Thread: Setting up a fully-functional server

  1. #1
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    Default Setting up a fully-functional server

    Hi Everyone,

    I want to host my website from home. I already have a fully-functioning Apache2, PHP5, MySQL5 server that hosts stuff for my local network.

    What else do I need to install to make my server the same specs as a dedicated server? What are some things I should know before I do so?

    I just installed an FTP server and it works perfectly. I read somewhere that I would need BIND9 for domain management; do I need it?

    I'm running Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid).

    I can't host outwards until I upgrade my internet plan, so I want to make sure it's possible for me to create a home server before I do anything with my internet plan.

    Thanks,
    X96
    Alex Blackie, X96 Design
    My Website
    I specialize in: HTML5, CSS3, PHP, Ruby on Rails, MySQL, MongoDB, Linux Server Administration

  2. #2
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    This is not very helpful in response to your specific questions, but in general the hardest part of setting up a server at home is the connection. Unless you upgrade to an extremely fast account, the server will be very limited, for several reasons:
    1. For most home broadband, the download speed is significantly slower than upload. This means that uploads (everything the server is serving) will take a very long time to load.
    2. Even a top of the line account with a home service provider will be almost useless if many users are trying to access the site at the same time. It may be possible to get a fast enough server going, but once the site becomes popular, it is almost guaranteed that response and transfer times will begin to lag.
    3. Though it is not as big a problem as with dialup, home broadband connections change IP addresses often. Every few days the IP will change a little (usually just the last two digits), so somehow you will have to keep this attached to your domains.
    4. At a more basic level, remember that this means you need to leave your server computer on all the time and not use it too much, or the processor may get too busy. So for a perfect system, this means having an extra computer and leaving it running all the time (and wasting the power if no one is using it-- but since they might it needs to be on).
    (5. Some users will have trouble with bandwidth. Many countries (not including the US) have broadband systems that limit transfer per month. If this is the case, it becomes basically the same issue as a limited bandwidth account at a hosting company.)

    If you can work around these issues, then it should be fine.

    It looks like you have everything you need to start. I don't think you would really need to worry about domains unless you plan to do a lot with them. If you use a hosting company that handles domains, then you can just buy the domain and use the DNS to point it toward your server. You will then need something for a DNS, and I'm not sure what to suggest there.
    Aside from that, all you need is a server base (apache) and any addons (mysql, php, etc) that you might want to use.

    I don't know that much about it, but it really depends on what you want to do with the server. I have setup a very basic server a couple times and there is not much to it: just install something like LAMP and add some pages to it. If you end up needing more complex things like DNS, then you may need to add more software.

    Linux is a good idea if you have a dedicated server, though it is possible on Windows (or even Mac OSX-- I've done that, though not for any practical purpose).

    Unless you have big plans for spending a lot of money (and hopefully getting it back from your websites, and maybe saving a lot from using hosting retailers), then I suggest that a home server is only useful for two things:
    1. Testing-- run a low-hit copy of your website for you (and your coworkers?) to test new designs, etc.; test code locally; have a non-public way that is still accessible on the internet.
    2. As a "drop box" type setup: if you are sending files back and forth to someone (for example, if you are doing the code and someone else is doing graphics), then having an FTP drop box is a great way to keep things organized, and it won't be any sort of overload for your connection. You can also turn the server off if you know your partner won't be connecting that day.
    Basically, a local server is useful as an entrance/exit to your local network from the outside (of course with the right security precautions), and for any testing you don't want to do on the real server or if don't want to go through the process of connecting to and working on the real server.


    It's certainly possible to get an effective home server going, but I expect it will be difficult to compete with what you can rent from hosting retailers. The advantages are complete control and low cost for extras like more storage space. The disadvantage is that you're basically not "buying in bulk" like the big retailers do, so they get things a lot cheaper than you will (mostly the internet connection).

    The best thing to do is to decide why you want a server: Is it just to learn how to use one? (great idea). Is it to host a small site for limited purposes? (good idea). Is it to solve all of your hosting problems and move everything to a local server? (Be careful!)

    For example, a local server would be a very useful way to host a small personal website with mostly text only, such as maybe your web design portfolio. There will not be a lot of visitors at once and it should not be something that has so much media it will kill your connection.
    The opposite of course would be trying to host something like eBay from home-- that sounds like a terrible idea.
    If it's somewhere in the middle, I'd say give it a try for a while and see if you'd rather deal with all of this or just settle for the somewhat limited options of hosting companies, and not have to set it up yourself.
    Last edited by djr33; 01-11-2010 at 06:56 AM.
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| espa˝ol | Deutsch | italiano | portuguŕs | catalÓ | un peu de franšais | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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    X96 Web Design (01-13-2010)

  4. #3
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    Thanks for the advice!

    Looking at the prices on the Telus website, the cost per month for the priviledge of outward-hosting would be twice what the current rate is now...

    So I'll stick with my local network, and probably just get hosting from a company - seven times less money per month than if I hosted it in-house...

    Thanks for your advice, though - it may come in handy in the future if I have to manage a server.

    // X96 \\
    Alex Blackie, X96 Design
    My Website
    I specialize in: HTML5, CSS3, PHP, Ruby on Rails, MySQL, MongoDB, Linux Server Administration

  5. #4
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    That seems like, unfortunately, the logical way to go.
    Using hosting companies is very annoying at times (especially when there is a specific issue you want full control over), but it's economical (or at least efficient, in that they are doing it all in bulk) and generally all handled by them, assuming the way they handle it fits your needs.

    Hosting yourself is something to look at, but only once you get some reason to do so. If you get $10,000 to setup a hosting thing for a popular website you make, then that's definitely something to look at. Get a hosting network of 5 computers, a T3 line or above, and it'll start being very reasonable. (And you can still get your money back, but just on a much bigger scale).

    I think it'll be difficult to really compete with hosting prices on the smaller scale.

    But don't give up your plans entirely-- it'll still be useful as a testing server, both for development and small outward sites (possibly) if you can get your connection to allow small amounts of bandwidth for that-- like maybe for clients to preview what you're working on for them, etc.


    However, don't take what I am saying as the final word on all of this, because there are people who do host from home and it works at least to some degree. But the problems are mentioned above, such as speed.
    For example, working with a friend who had a subdomain on his site as a "sandbox" for testing from his home server, it took forever to load pages, but was obviously faster for him to save/update files for me to look at. But since the files were being served to me from halfway around the world, I was glad that I only loaded pages from that server rarely-- and most of the time they were on the real server.
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| espa˝ol | Deutsch | italiano | portuguŕs | catalÓ | un peu de franšais | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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