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ATPM 3.09
September 1997




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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Peter Howson,

Setting Up A Macintosh Web Server

I have owned a Mac since the 512K and before that I had an Apple IIc. I currently own five working Macintoshes and one that needs a new motherboard. I have cannibalized the dead one to make my working boxes work faster, better, harder. I beta test for Claris, not one or two products, but everything they make, I am an official Claris ETS (External Test Site). I have a dedicated phone line for my internet activities (it used to be a fax line but who needs that when the Mac does my voice mail and my faxes on one line). I am waiting for a cable to hook up my apartment with X-10 devices so that my Main computer can control the lights, coffee maker, TV, etc. I set up my own web server and will be putting it on line in the next couple of days. I have two different PowerBooks, a PowerMac 7500, a Performa 600 (my soon to be web server), an SE/30, and a Newton 120. I keep spare Mac parts on a shelf in my office in case I ever come across a poor wayward Mac in need of a loving home. I correspond regularly with the jokers at Bungie sftware who make the best games in the world, and usually only for the Mac. My main disappointment in life to this point, the one thing that has made me question the basic goodness of human character has been the dominance of Windows as an operating system.

Seriously though, I am a visual artist, I maintain my own web server, FTP server, home page, and mail server. I use the mac for nearly every facet of my life. I can use almost every piece of shareware out there. I love to tinker and push things to their logical limit and sometimes beyond that. So, that is my offer of help. On another topic, I thought I would share a quick story about setting up a web server on a Mac.

I have been a mac enthusiast since I bought my first 512K (don't ask how long ago that was, I'm starting to feel old). I have always felt that it was dramatically superior to the PC which is why I gave my PC to my brother at the time (we were having a fight).

Anyway, I have had my own web page for some time now to promote my photography but I wanted it to do more than just act as an on line portfolio. I was talking to my friend who owns my ISP (convenient, no?) and lamenting the 5Mb space restriction and he said "You know, we have this old Performa 600 lying around that I was just going to get rid of. If you want to set it up as a web server, I would be happy to let you hook it up to the ethernet and give you an IP address." Figuring I had nothing to lose and knowing that my girlfriend would be away in Chicago for a week, I said "Great! I have plenty of free time on the horizon, that'll give me something to do." Well, I grabbed the box and an extra keyboard, took it home plugged it in, initialized the hard drive and installed the system software from the built in 2x (this is important) CD ROM drive. About two years ago I had bought Web Master Macintosh by Bob Levitus and Jeff Evans and I whipped out the CD ROM and popped that into the drive once I had rebooted the machine. I then installed Machttp.

Now was the time I was dreading, I had heard nightmare stories from my brother (an MIS for a large private bank) about the difficulties of archaic web server set up, UNIX commands, configuration files, ports, etc., etc., ad nauseum and he's trained to do this stuff. I had girded my loins for a week of nose to the grindstone, brain-frying geekspeak, I even went so far as to buy a new office chair. Pot of hot coffee by my side and furrowed brow I opened the inch thick book and skimmed through the introduction to the internet and the stuff about setting up an internet account to page 52 where it got into the specifics of configuring the Mac. I set the IP address like it said and then I found out that I was done. I remember feeling a distinct feeling of being slightly deflated. I went to my Powermac on the same network and fired up my browser and sure enough, there it was, my web page in all its glory. "How can this be? What are the other 295 pages of this book for? Can it be that easy?" Evidently it was. What would I do now?

Well, I figured if I'm going to have a web server, I don't want to be trecking down to the ISP every time I want to update my page. I had better go find me an FTP server and hook that puppy up. Surely that would occupy the next week or so. So I went to the MacUpdates web site and downloaded NetPresenz. After drinking one cup of coffee, it was downloaded and I was ready to roll up my sleeves and dig in. I read the read me file and followed the four or five simple steps for setting up my file sharing on the folder for my web page and I was done.

The girding of my loins was beginning to seem unnecessary. I was beginning to feel a bit cocky and I thought I needed to be taken down a notch so I pointed my browser at MacUpdates again and set my sights on Eudora Internet Mail Server Lite. This would surely keep my brain working at breakneck speed what with the Rubic's cube of SMTP and POP and APOP. So I downloaded it and went to take care of the effects of the coffee. When I came back I was ready for acronym hell. I sat down and cracked my knuckles. I entered the IP address of my computer and I set up two new accounts Webmaster and Peter and then I was ready to configure something. The only problem was, I was done again.

So, now I have a full fledged web server with the web page loaded and ready to run, an FTP server, and an e-mail server. Here are the stats:

Total time from raw box to fully-loaded internet demon: 1 hour (with 28.8 modem!) Total amount of coffee left over: 1 pot - 1 cup Total time left over from time budgeted: 167 hours Total Sleepless nights: 0 Total actual nightmares: 1 (before the process started)

The only thing I did not actually get accomplished was getting a FileMaker Pro database running so that I could have on line estimating. I figured that would take at least a week. I went to sleep secure in the knowledge that this Herculean task would keep me busy.

That was yesterday. Today I woke up and read on Pointcast that Claris FileMaker Pro is going to have web support built in with the next release.

I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer rely on Apple technology to provide me with the kind of inane time burning work I was hoping to get from it. This will force me to focus on more difficult tasks like cleaning out my refrigerator, doing laundry, washing the car,..., but then, maybe that's what Apple Script is for.

Blue ApplePeter Howson is a professional photographer. The Segments section is open to anyone. If you have something interesting to say about life with your Mac, write us at <>.

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Reader Comments (7)

Mike Hume · August 29, 2001 - 06:05 EST #1
I enjoyed reading your story, but it doesn't help me understand how to set up a server. I figured the internet would somewhat help me find a way of hooking up a server from the box but, as usual, I wasn't that lucky. My question is simple, I have 9 iMacs and a brand-new, still-in-the-box G4 server. How the do I hook it all up? I know how to hook up the cables, but from there I'm lost, IP address? Where do I get that from and where does it go? I've never actually configured a server before, so I need some help. Thanks
Ted Bohrer · November 24, 2001 - 17:19 EST #2
As a Mac enthusiast myself, I am having trouble convincing my boss that Mac is the best way to go for a corporate web server. There used to be info available showing Mac superiority as a web server, but can't find any data now. Usual complaints are that Macs can't handle volume and don't have enough web server accessory software. Is there anything you can point me to?
James · November 3, 2002 - 16:50 EST #3
Yes, how do you set up a simple home network? This article did not help me with that.

I have a G4, a PowerBook, and a Windows XP Dell laptop. I want them to share files and share the same cable modem internet access.

I have OS X server installed on the G4 and I have an ethernet hub. Can someone talk me through this?
Andy · April 28, 2005 - 08:00 EST #4
I have read your story but as the others above say it doesnt help me.

please could you send me info on setting up a webserver on my mac running Mac OSX version 10.3.8
anonymous · April 28, 2005 - 11:38 EST #5
Quoted: "I know how to hook up the cables, but from there I'm lost, IP address? Where do I get that from and where does it go?"

In OS X, go to System Prefs. Choose "Sharing." Choose "Services." Activate "Personal Web Sharing." Wait until the window changes, about 2-30 seconds depending on your Mac. Read the text at the bottom of the window, it should day something like, "View this computer’s website at..." and that is your information.

Quote: "I have a G4, a PowerBook, and a Windows XP Dell laptop. I want them to share files and share the same cable modem internet access."

A Mac running OS X can share internet access through System Prefs. Choose "Sharing." Choose "Internet." Activate the port you are sharing with (Ethernet, Airport) and within 5-30 seconds it will be working.

Quote: "...can you email me more details about setting up a home server, ftp, web, and email?"

All server functions are available in System Prefs. "Sharing" is usually the place to go once you find System Preferences. From there you'll find Personal File Sharing, Windows Sharing, Personal Web Sharing (web server), Remote Login, FTP Access (FTP server), Apple Remote Desktop, Remote Apple Events, Printer Sharing, Firewall settings, and Internet Sharing. All in Systems Prefs->Sharing, and all activated by clicking once on a check box and waiting a few seconds.
Summer Mayranski · August 11, 2005 - 15:18 EST #6
I have done all of the suggestions for setting up my Mac as a web server. Everything is on in the 'sharing' folder and ready to go. I have two problems, however. First, the website for my computer is not the domain name that I want it to be. It uses instead my wireless internet connections IP address. How do I change the domain name for my computer's website? Second, I can't seem to edit the page that says, "Your website here," located in the Sites folder of my home folder. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks.
ATPM Staff · August 11, 2005 - 18:22 EST #7
Summer - getting a domain name to point to your personal computer's web server may be a huge challenge and is not something anyone's liable to be able to tackle just in comments here. So let's focus instead on using your IP address. First, you have to determine what your publlic IP address is—not the internal 192.*.*.* address that your router gives you. That 192 address will work for other computers inside your network, but not outside. You can find out your public IP address by going to web sites such as or

Next, you need to open ports 80 through 81 in your router to let web traffic through to your computer. To do that, you tell those ports to forward to a particular IP address inside your network—whichever 192.*.*.* address your computer is using. You'll probably want to take steps to statically lock that internal IP address instead of using DHCP, otherwise your internal IP could change later on if you restart your computer.

And finally, while we're on the topic of the IP address changing, I suspect you don't have a static IP address from your internet provider, so some months down the road, you may find that the public IP that you've given people to connect to your web site will no longer work.

The solution to this (apart from paying for a static IP address) is also part of the solution for having a domain name instead of an IP address to connect to your web server. You can use a dynamic DNS service such as A small application can run on your computer that periodically pings the dynamic DNS server in case your IP address changes. These DynDNS services can also manage a domain name so that if someone types in, it forwards to your IP address. However, for this to work, you may have to make modifications to the OS X httpd.conf file that's buried in the OS file system. Someone who understands internet networking would probably have to help you change it.

And for your question about the "website here" message, there are multiple places where your web directory could be located. If you're putting files in the Sites folder located inside your home user directory, then to access it, you must indicate your username in the URL. Thus, the address would be http://DOMAINorIP/~YOURUSERNAME

If you want to not to require the ~yourusername part, you must put your site in the top-level location, which you will find by navigating to the top level of your hard drive, then going to Library, then WebServer, and Documents. Inside that Documents folder, you'll see all the many files that collectively create what you're seeing now when you access your web IP without a ~username at the end. You may wish to archive those just in case, but it probably doesn't hurt anything to delete them and replace with your own files.

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