Sometimes you need to deploy a web server quickly. A web server makes it easy to do things like test web applications, implement a proof-of-concept project, or just get familiar with web development.
The steps below cover how to do that using the venerable Apache HTTP Server. I'll begin with installation, then continue with editing a basic configuration file, creating a few documents, setting the firewall, and finally, testing the service.
Note that this is a very basic test deployment. It's not suitable for internet-facing web servers. To be production-ready, you must configure firewalls and audit your server settings.
If your Linux distribution doesn't already include Apache, run the following command to install the package:
$ sudo dnf install httpd
Adjust the command accordingly if you use a different package manager.
Edit the config file
Using your text editor of choice (mine is Vim, but Nano or others work just as well), open
These two values may already be set in that file, but confirm them to be sure:
DocumentRoot /var/www/html Listen 80
Use the search function in your editor to find the appropriate stanzas. You may need to uncomment the
DocumentRoot stanza. This article uses the standard location at
Listen directive simply indicates which port the service listens on. In this case, use the standard port 80 for HTTP.
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Manage the service
You've installed a web server, but you haven't started running it yet. Use the
systemctl command to start and enable the
$ sudo systemctl start httpd $ sudo systemctl status httpd
Starting a service doesn't mean it will start automatically from now on. To make your web server start automatically after a reboot, use the
$ sudo systemctl enable --now httpd
Open port 80
Now that the site is configured (and in a real-world situation, secured), it's time to open the firewall. I'll assume you're using
firewalld, so type the following commands to permit HTTP traffic into the server:
$ sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-service=http $ sudo firewall-cmd --reload $ sudo firewall-cmd --list-all --zone=public
You may need to adjust the zone value, depending on your distribution.
Test the server
First, test the server with a browser. Launch Firefox and navigate to
localhost:80 to see the Apache web server's default confirmation page.
You probably didn't install a web server just to see "It works!" in your browser. To make your server a little more interesting, launch your favorite text editor using
sudo, and create a few pages to simulate a website. Feel free to make this as simple or complex as you'd like. You can also create a text file to test downloads from the site.
Your site's homepage is by default
index.html, and it's located in
/var/www/html. Make a backup copy of the existing
index.html file and create a new one containing the following code:
<html> <head> <title>Welcome to my test site!</title> </head> <body> This site is for testing purposes only </body> </html>
Additionally, create a new text file called
download-this.txt with the following content so that you can test the
wget commands later:
If you can read this, the download succeeded!
Store these two files at
Look at files
Assuming that works, do a test download of the
Use a different system on the same segment to test the web service. On the new system, launch a web browser. In the address bar, type the web server's IP address.
Don't forget, you can launch a browser and point it at a site from the terminal:
$ firefox http://IP
Do you see your welcome page?
Sysadmins frequently use
wget to download files using HTTP. This ability is particularly handy for hands-free downloads in scripts or other automation scenarios.
Run these two commands to confirm file download functionality:
$ sudo dnf -y install curl $ curl -O http://IP/download-this.txt
$ sudo dnf -y install wget $ wget http://IP/download-this.txt
Did you receive the
download-this.txt file? Use
ls to display the file and
cat to read its contents. You might have two copies of the file if you tested the download using both the
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Check the logs
Check the Apache log files for access information. For example, type the following to see log entries indicating the file download transactions:
$ sudo cat /var/log/httpd/access_log | grep -I download-this.txt
That's it! You've installed, configured, and tested a very basic web server deployment in just a few steps. Don't forget to investigate security settings before placing such a deployment in your production environment or exposing it to the outside world.