Monday, June 04, 2007

XAMPP: The Easy and Simple Web Server

Are you an HTML and CSS jokey like me who needs to occasionally dabble in the magical art of PHP, or some other, server side environment? Are you deathly afraid of and confused by this stuff. Me too. But I found XAMPP a couple of years ago and it is a simple and easy web server you can install on your own computer to run a web server and test out some PHP. It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris. I run it on XP.

Still a little nervous about installing a web server on your computer, how about installing it on a USB flash drive? No problem! Download the ZIP archive (not the EXE, that’s for regular installs) from their site and extract it onto your flash drive. Then simply run the setup_xampp.bat file, let it run for a minute and presto! Instant web server!

Now XAMPP is like any other program in that you have to start it before you use it. In the folder on the flash drive there will be file called: xampp_start.exe, double click it and the server starts up. Windows may give you a warning, click through that. A terminal window will open up (small window with black background and white type), don’t close that, just minimize it.

Now you have a web server running! Great now what. Well, first check to see if it is working, open your browser and type in http://localhost. You should see something like, “Welcome to XAMPP for Windows Version 1.6.2 !”. Yea, it works!. If it does not, you are going to have to look elsewhere, I barely know how to run it.

OK, now you want to use it to render those PHP pages you created. Here is the thing you need to know, the files you are developing need to be in the Xampp folder. Not just any folder, the htdocs folder, like: E:\xampplite\htdocs\ (assuming your flash drive is letter E). So drop a folder (let’s call it ‘web-content’) with some PHP files (one of which should be named index.php) in there and type in “http://localhost/web-content”. If your PHP files are written correctly, you will now be looking at them all processed and looking like they will when uploaded to a server (assuming that server runs PHP).

To shut the web server down, look for the “xampp_stop.exe” file in the main XAMPP folder and click that.

I run XAMPP Lite by the way. It’s a smaller install and since I don’t know how to use any of the added stuff that comes with the full XAMPP, I figured it was a better choice.

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