You might have known the word “Web”, but have you ever heard of “HTTP”, “Apache”, and “IIS”? You might have had some ideas about what a Web page is, as you browse the Internet to get information on various Web pages almost every day, but are you aware of the mechanism behind this? If your answers to both questions are “no”, it is lucky for you to see this passage, which is intended to open your eyes to “Web server”, and you are sure to find the answers after reading it!
First of all, what is a Web server used for? As can be known by the name, it can be used to serve up Web pages, storing and delivering them. Then let’s take a quick look at what the Web server is: Broadly speaking, “Web server” is the computer that acts as a server for web-related work, but it can also be referred to the software that run on the hardware server! Therefore, you are able to call both the strange-shaped computers and software running on them “Web servers” next time you visit the school computer lab.
For the “hardware” Web servers, they do not need a display screen attached to them, and they are often placed in the locked room in the school computer lab or the company. However, you may also configure your personal computer as a Web server, which I will talk about later in this passage. For “software” Web servers, there are many types of servers that can be installed on the same “hardware” server or several ones, depending on what the demand is. There are HTTP servers, FTP servers, Email servers, Database servers and so on. However, the software Web server often refers only to the HTTP server in the machine, according to PC Magazine Encyclopedia.
When it comes to the types for software Web servers, in no way should you miss the most popular two: Apache and IIS. Apache is an open source and free software that can be installed on almost all the operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS X and so on. It is said that almost 60% of Web server machines in the world run the Apache software! What about its counterpart IIS? IIS is short for Internet Information Server, and it is tailored to the Windows platforms. It is easy to use IIS as it is well integrated with the Windows operating system, but given that it is not for free and not open source, think twice if you want to use it as your Web server. Nowadays, more and more companies especially technical ones tend to eliminate the use of the IIS Web servers, mainly because of the security. I am not going to defame Microsoft, but many people working in the computer field have said that the IIS Web server is worse in terms of ensuring the security as well as fixing the vulnerabilities, compared to the former one! Apart from these two major types, there are also others such as Sun Java System Web server for media and large websites, and Lighttpd for the FreeBSD operating system.
After learning about what the Web server actually is, are you eager to know how it works in the network? Let me show you a vivid example: You type in the URL in the browser on your computer, and then the browser send a HTTP request to the Web server related to the URL, after which the server fetch HTTP pages as well as relevant files and send them back to the browser, on which you see the colorful contents you need. In fact, the Web server is even capable of doing more things, such as executing scripts which can be applied to data searching and credit card authorization. No matter what it does, it can not work without “HTTP”, which you can see frequently in the passage: HTTP is Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and it is the essential foundation of the World Wide Web. It is the protocol for exchanging and transferring the hypertext, which is of great significance to the functioning of Web server.
Now, do you want to have a try to set up your own Web server? As you know, if you are going to make a website or a blog, you have to put them on a Web server, either using a Web hosting service or building a server yourself. It seems extremely complicated and exhausting to set up a Web server on your own, but that is only held true if you never try doing it. At least, it should not be that difficult to take the first step! The first thing you should know is what is needed for your personal computer so as to be set as a Web server. I am not joking, but you just need to do two things: to install software for the Web server, and to have the computer connected to the Internet. Let’s take ubuntu14.04 as an example. What you need to do is just open the terminal to update the applications, and install the lamp-server using the specific command, which you can find easily on the Internet if you do not know. Then simply type in “localhost” in your browser, you are able to see a Web page that indicates you have installed the Web server successfully. After that, you can make configurations as you like, with the aid of a bunch of tutorials online teaching you how to finish it. Anyway, as long as you start to try, you will get more familiar with the Web server.
Now, are you able to answer the questions easily at the beginning of the passage? I am sure you can!