Run Your Own Web Server Using Linux & Apache, by Stuart Langridge & Tony Steidler-Dennison, ISBN: 0-9752402-2-6

Reviewed by: Songmuh Jong, February 2006
Published by: SitePoint
Requires: Unused PC with Internet connection
MSRP: US$39.95, CA$55.95

The popularity of Linux, Apache HTTP Server, MySQL and PHP (better known amongst the technically savvy as LAMP) can be found in many books on the topics of setting up a Linux box as a web server. Each book has its own emphasis. This book assumes that you want to set up a LAMP machine. It claims to focus on the Linux operating system and the Apache server, but it also covers the installation and testing of MySQL and PHP. I've tried to follow a book published in 2004 to set up LAMP using Fedora, without much success. Eventually, I had to go back to Red Hat Linux. This book encouraged me to try again with the new Fedora Core 4.

Run Your Own Web Server Using Linux & Apache assumes that you don't have Linux yet, so the first four chapters deal with installing and configuring Fedora 4. If you order the book through the publisher on the web, you get a DVD containing the Fedora Core 4 distribution. Otherwise, you can download Fedora as an ISO image and burn it to CD. Chapter one provides snapshots of every step in the installation, including the graphical mode and the text mode. Even with this help, it took me four installations to finalize Fedora.


For people who are new to Linux, this is a very friendly book. Chapters two through four discuss the basics of Linux, starting with the graphical GNOME interface, file system, permissions and symbolic links, and the text editors gedit and kate, followed by the command line, shell scripts, the PATH environment variable, user and group management, mounting devices, daemons and service configuration, automation with cron, anacron and at, sending e-mail, sharing directories and files with Samba and NFS, package management and many other items.

Chapter five is the only part of the book that directly discusses anything related to a web server. Other chapters deal mainly with administering the Linux box as a whole. This is important because the web server is actually the Linux box and one has to master the Linux environment before the web server can be run. But I'd have saved a lot of time if the book explicitly listed the requirements to bring up a web page located on the localhost, and the requirements for another machine to browse the web page on the new server. The discussion of the Apache web server configuration follows the same logic as the Linux introduction: it starts with using GUI interfaces to administer the web server, followed by the actual command line syntax. Several important concepts are discussed, including virtual hosts setup, httpd.conf and .htaccess, public key cryptography and OpenSSL.

The rest of the book discusses tools and topics useful for server security and administration, including Webmin, yum, PuTTY, ssh client, VNC server and viewers, file backup, system logging and Webalizer, Tripwire, iptables and firewalls, Firestarter, and Snort. The appendices on command line references and troubleshooting are also helpful.

To download the code for this book, click on the Code Archive on the book's web site and enter your e-mail address plus whatever security question the site asks you—usually a word in the book. A link to the actual code will be sent to you by e-mail. The first four chapters can be downloaded from the web. You need to visit the web site, enter your e-mail address, and click on the link in the e-mail you receive from the publisher.

This is a worthy book if you want to learn the Linux operating system. It is one of the best Linux tutorial books I've ever seen. However, it doesn't cover very much of the web server side of things, understandable as it also does not directly discuss PHP and MySQL which are two of the most important components of a web server. I can't recommend the book as a web server reference, but it is highly recommended as a Linux guide.

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