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Creating Internal WebSites [Properly]

This might seem like an odd thing to discuss, but I had a recent experience with an organisation which has their own web server [XAMPP] on a dedicated PC which they mirror up to their host. All sounds relatively straightforward you might think ?

They wanted all their users to access the internal web-server as internal.web [as a URL] and their live server as www.theirdomain.com.

Perhaps it’s blindingly obvious to a developer [like me], but this how you do it properly:

Let us say that the web-server [The XAMPP PC] has an internal IP Address of Remember this IP. If in doubt open the console on this PC and run ipconfig.

On the web-server, you will have a file called http-vhosts.conf [probably in c:\xampp\apache\conf\extra]

Open this file in your editor [notepad is fine]

It will look something like this:

# Use name-based virtual hosting.
##NameVirtualHost *:80
# VirtualHost example:
# Almost any Apache directive may go into a VirtualHost container.
# The first VirtualHost section is used for all requests that do not
# match a ##ServerName or ##ServerAlias in any <VirtualHost> block.

Below this you need to create an entry which looks like this :

<VirtualHost *:80>
 ServerAdmin yourEmail@xyz.com
 DocumentRoot "C:/xampp/htdocs/your-server-folder"
 ServerName internal.web
 ServerAlias internal.web

Note the coloured items are specific to your server/PC. Very unlikely that you’re not using Port 80 for the internet, but you never know. Also the folder for your web-site [local site] can be anywhere, but best practice is to have it under xampp/htdocs.

Restart your XAMPP server

On each PC [not the server] assuming it’s Windows, you have this rather hidden away file called hosts. This is in c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc

Change the permissions on this file so that you can write to it or update it. Just right-click > Security->Edit Permissions and set the file to full-access for Users.

Open the file in notepad or any editor and it will look like this:

# For example:
# rhino.acme.com # source server
# x.acme.com # x client host

# localhost name resolution is handled within DNS itself.
# localhost
# ::1 localhost

add a line at the bottom as follows: internal.web # is the local IP of the server

Save the file and open your PC’s web browser, e.g. Chrome.

Enter the URL internal.web [no http or www etc – just this] and your local web-site on your server will open.

Why do this ?

A lot of web-sites don’t play nice unless they are resolved with a root URL and you can get HTTP 500 errors if you don’t do the above.




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