Even if you don't know what you would use it for, a website, or just a server alone, is something very useful. And fun.
I found myself in need of a website. But not one from a "Create your own website" site. Because it's never your own if you get it from one of those. You either end up with .whatever.com and the end of the URL, or you can bearly change the appearance of the site. You really can't get what you want from one of those.
So, I set off on something I had been planning for a long time. Creating my own, real website.
Step 1: What You Need
You don't need a lot to make a server. But some things make it much easier. Here's a list of things you should have to make it much easier, and then a list of basic list of things.
An Extra Computer To Use as a Server (Preferably a Desktop)
A Computer Other Then The New Server
Internet (Preferably with wires, but wireless works too)
A Brain (Or Another Brain To Help You Out)
For my server, I used an old computer built from parts I trash picked.
For a very over used saying, "One mans trash is another mans treasurer" is very true.
Or in this case, one mans trash is another mans website.
Step 2: Setting Up A New Server (Or Just Installing A Program)
When most people make a server, they use something like Linux of FreeBSD. I've used both many times, but if your more into the website aspect and not the technology, you can just use plain old Windows. I've used the normal, plain version of Windows XP as a server, and besides some of the annoyances of Windows, it worked fine.
So if you don't already have an Operating System on your soon-to-be server, pick one out and put it on. Almost any will work. Some people even use OS/2 and DOS. And theres even a few servers that are run by the old-but-great Commodore 64. But for that you need instructions other than these.
Step 3: More Setting Up (And The Program)
If you have Linux of FreeBSD, you don't really need to change settings. But if you picked Windows, then you have to turn off the annoying security features.
Go into the control panel and find the security options. Make sure you turn off Window's firewall and internet security features. These will block people from accessing the server, which means they can't see your website.
And if you have a firewall program or other virus program installed, which servers really don't need, turn it off or change settings. But really, you can just turn them off.
Now you just need to install a program and you've got your own server.
The program most people and websites use is call Apache. It's a great and easy program that turns a computer into a server with a few clicks of a mouse. If your on windows, find and download Apache's installer. If your on Linux or BSD, all you have to do is type some terminal lines and your on your way to having a website.
Step 4: Putting The Website Into The Server
HTML is easy to use, learn, and can do almost anything you need it to. I found an old book on my shelf about learning HTML, and that helped my with anything I didn't know. Libraries are filled with books on HTML, and luckily for those who don't like reading, most of them are pictures, or flat out what you need. But if you love your computer more then books, then you can always just search some things and get everything you need to know to type some HTML.
When your ready to save the website you just typed, make sure you make the filetype .html . You can do that usually just by typing .html after the name of the file when your saving. But make sure that the main page of your website is called index.html.
Once you have some HTML ready, you need to let Apache know what to show.
On Windows, you can put your site into Apache by going to C:/Program Files/Apache Software Foundation/Apache/htdocs. If your not on Windows, search a little and you'll find where to put your HTML files.
When your in the folder, you should see either one or many HTML files called Index already there. You can delete them. Then, put all of your websites HTML files into the folder. Now your website is on the internet. But not everyone can see it. Yet.
Step 5: Wireless Routers
If you have a wireless router, it probably has extra space in the back to plug other Ethernet needing things into it. Your server should be plugged in there, and not just using the wireless internet it self. Wireless internet has a tendency to be effected by interference, and you don't want your website randomly going offline. So plug it in, try and avoid a wireless website.
Once it's plugged in, or if your just letting the server go wireless, you probably need to change the security settings in the wireless router. This doesn't mean taking off the password for the internet, it means going in to the box and changing the settings. Which is much easier then it sounds. Just type http://192.168.2.1/ into your browser, and you should see a page come up for your wireless routers settings. Try and turn off any extra security features, including anything about blocking.
Next, if it has the option, go to "Virtual Servers". For this part, you need to know the local IP address of your server. You can find this out by going to command prompt on Windows and typing ipconfig, or by typing ifconfig in the Linux terminal. Look for a set of numbers that looks something like this "192.168.2._", with the _ replaced by a number.
Now, in the virtual server settings section, make an entry that looks like this, with X as the number in your local IP.
Description Inbound Port Type Private IP Address Private Port
Server 80 TCP 192.168.2.X 80
After you click enable and Apply Changes, your server should be on the internet for everyone to see. But now it needs a name.
Step 6: Name Servers And Tokelau
Without a name server, people would have to remember and enter http://188.8.131.52/ . Which isn't so easy to remember. But with a name server, they just need to know a name and .com or .org. Which makes the internet much more user friendly.
To get your place on a name server, it costs money. Not always a lot of money, but still, it's money. For your website to have a .org name, it costs somewhere around $6.50 and up per year. But there is a name server out there that lets you use it's service for free. As long as you get 25 views every ninety days. Which isn't very hard to do.
This server is .tk . It's the domain for the small, small territory of Tokelau. Tokelau wasn't making very much money, infact, they were making about $500,000 U.S. dollars a year. So, as a way to bring in money, they've been letting people get up to two free spots on their name server, or pay money for even more. But were only interested in the free part.
Step 7: Yourwebsite.tk
"Use Dot TK Free DNS Service" is selected, something should show up with your websites name in two boxes, and two empty boxes that say IP Address next to them. This is where you enter your IP address, but not the local one from earlier. Now you need a different IP Address.
Go on a website that can give you your IP Address, such as http://whatismyipaddress.com/. When you see a number that looks like this 184.108.40.206, copy it and enter it into the two IP Address boxes on dot.tk. Once you enter the Captcha, your website should be all set.
Enter your new .tk website into the browser. If it loads, then you've got your very own website. If nothing comes up, make sure what you entered on dot.tk was correct, and make sure your server is online and has all security options off.
Step 8: Welcome To The Internet
There are a lot of Instructables about Apache and websites, but none have all the information in once place, and many of them leave a lot for you to figure out on your own. It took me almost two months to set up a website because I couldn't find all the information I needed. Most people who know how to do things right with computers like to laugh at other people, instead of help them.
I know some people are probably stuck somewhere, and I'm sorry about that. Just take a minute to sit back and think, and then look over everything you've done once more. You should be able to fix any problems on your own. The internet is much simpler then people make it out to be.