Do it in the road: Serving Up

  1. Navigating the Net
  2. Do it in the road

You’ve got two choices when it comes to web serving. You can do it from your computer, or you can do it from someone else’s computer.

Doing it from someone else’s computer usually means learning Unix. It will be a lot cheaper, however.

If you want to serve up to the Internet from your personal computer, your options change nearly every day. The main services that you’ll want to provide, however, are web and electronic mail. I said it earlier, and I meant it: you’re going to find it a lot easier to serve to the net using Macintosh software than using Windows software or Unix software.

If you decide to go ahead with it, look around first. Find some newsgroups and mailing lists that discuss, if you already know it, the service you want to provide, the software you plan to use, and the computer you plan to use.

And remember that I’m talking about you doing it yourself using a budget direct net connection. If you can afford to hire someone else, your options expand considerably, but most likely all you can afford is a full-time 28.8 connection to your local provider and an extra phone line from the telephone company.


The undisputed king of the hill for Macintosh web serving is Peter Lewis’s shareware NetPresenz. For Windows, there are a number of options, some freeware and some shareware. You’ll have to look around.

The advantage of Web serving is also its limitation. You can provide the links to your information in paragraphs instead of in lists. But it also means you have to learn how to create those paragraphs. Whereas a gopher site allows you to simply drop already existing files into a folder, you have to create your own files in a special html language for your web server.

What does ‘html’ look like? There are manuals for creating html on-line, and you should be able to find it from whatever client you use. Most web clients, such as Netscape, keep a list of special places, and one of these special places will be something like “publishing” or “making your own web documents”. I’ve written a short tutorial, Writing on the Web, to get you started.

If you’re lucky, there will be good html editors available by the time you read this. An ‘html editor’ is a word processor which, when you save a document, saves it in the ‘html’ language. PageMill is getting a lot of press, and ClarisWorks 4.0, WordPerfect 3.5/Macintosh, and Microsoft Word 6.0/Windows can all save documents in “html” format.

You can also learn ‘html’ by stealing other people’s documents. Most web clients allow you to look at the source view of a web document, as well its normal view. The option to “view source” should be in one of the menus.

Electronic Mail

If you have a web site, you also need to be able to receive comments about your web site, and information about your topic. You will also want to have “autoresponse” electronic mail, and maybe even run a few mailing lists of your own.

On the Macintosh, get Apple’s Apple Internet Mail Server. It’s free. It allows you to create any number of electronic mail addresses on your computer, including simple mailing lists.

If you want more advanced mailing lists, look for Macjordomo, also free, from Michele Fuortes.

For autoresponse, look for my FireShare. Working in conjunction with Apple’s mail server, you can have special accounts to do special things. People sending e-mail to “[h--p] at []” can automatically receive a special help file in return.

FTP & Gopher

Peter Lewis’ NetPresenz also allows you to serve up your information as both gopher and ftp, and it even allows the people who come to your site to search your information based on words in the filenames. On the Windows side, there is the shareware program Alun’s FTPd, for FTP, and the freeware GO4HAM for gopher, but you’re getting what you pay for: GO4HAM is not easy to use.

The basic idea behind ftp and gopher serving is that you’re taking some files and making these files visible to the rest of the net. Usually, these files will be text files. If you wrote them yourself, you’ll have saved them using your word processor’s “Save as Text” or “Text Only With Line Breaks” option. Once you have your ftp or gopher server set up, maintaining it is quite simple. When you have a new ‘file’ that you want to make available, you just pop it into your ‘ftp’ or ‘gopher’ folder and it becomes available to the net instantly.


You can also run Internet conferencing software from your Macintosh. Palace, MacGoesMOO, and Chat all allow people to get together and shoot the bull using your computer as the central site.

  1. Navigating the Net
  2. Do it in the road