ibookserver Setup

my How-to quest to set up a rural dialup server on an ibook g3.

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Location: Trinity County, East Texas, United States

I'm a lawyer who likes to surf the net, play music and bitch about things I can't change.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Mac Servers You already have - you just din't know it!

Servers you want? Servers you got! Inside every mac that ships with OS 10.3.X are servers. And, if you bought the OS X 10.3 Panther you just have to install it from your Xcode Tools Disk - that is the one that you did not install.

When you go to the sharing preferences panel and turn on sharing - personal Web sharing - what you are really doing is starting the Apache server, a unix based server that all the major companies use. You already know about Apache - that is the server that gives you the site not found page or file 404 or 403 page when you go to a website that is no longer good. See? it always has that little line under it that reads "Apache Server V. 1.3.1....." You have that in your computer and all you need to turn it on is flip a couple switches in your systems preferences file.. Now go to your Home directory or folder -the one named after you automatically. You should have a folder called "Sites". That is you personal web page you can put up for other people on your mac network. You also have in your Macintosh HD in the Library Folder, a folder called "WebServer" - tht is yur apache webserver site folder - just drag all your web site files, folders, jpgs, etc. into the folder and your site is almost ready for prime time. Anybody can come to your "web Site" as long as you are on the internet and as long as you give your friends the exact url such as :http://10.0.1.2/~yourfullloginname. But that is awkward. there is an elegant way to do it. We will cover it later on.

In the same preference pane where you turned on your Personal Web Sharing, are several more servers - the ftp server and the Apple File Server - called Personal File sharing. Any other mac on your network can use the AFPserver to get and receive files. This is great if you have more than one computer in the house. turn it on and it works - all you need to do is set the permissions on your files and folders to keep the children out of those sensitive "business records" otherwise known as your porn collectiion.

Do the same for your ftp server in the same pane and yuou have an instant ftp server -It even tells you the url to give out to people. It works, but there is a better way to run an FTPserver - more on that later.

Okay, you got a webserver, an ftpserver, an AFPserver. whatis left? How about a mailserver - you know, let people have their own email accounts and send and receive email without having to pay for email accounts. For that, you need to open the mail application - that postage-stamp with the flying eagle on it - that is it. You just have to set it up in the preferences. More on that later - and there is a better way.

See, I told you you had all the servers for free right there in your little ole mac, imac, ibook, powebook, emac, laptop, whatever - if it is a mac running Mac OS X then you have the servers. Next post will be about AFPservers.

Rural, out!

Mac Software -What You Need for free or at Small Cost

Even though you mac comes with a whole bunch of applications that you can use to set up your web pages and servers, there are a few programs that help. And, since we really like free or nearly free stuff, we shall talk a smidge about some programs that will make your life easier and does not cost a whole lot.

The first thing you might need is an image manipulation program that does what Photoshop does. There are a few applications out there that are free, but the cream of the crop is a shareware program that is not crippleware (crippleware is software that won't let you save or do some of the better things it does until you pay the shareware fee). That program is GraphicConverter X. It is Shareware, but it also works without registering. This way you can use it to see if it is what you want - then pay the registration fee to Lemke - the creator. I have used GraphicConverter for years and years since the early - mid 1990's. The latest version is fast and full of a sorts of image manipulation programs. It is worth the money.

HTML Editor - there are plenty of HTML editors out there that are free or nearly free, but you have AppleWorks that will do it for you - You also have an app that comes with mac that you can write basic html code on - it is called TextEdit, and it fits our pocketbook - free with your mac. I use Appleworks, TextEdit and (i m a lawyer) Word. I would recommend that you download the full version of netscape if you want a free html page creator. To learn how other pages are created using html, go to a website in your free web browser that came with your computer -Safari. When you go to a page you like - click on the view source menu item under View in the menu bar and you can see how they did it. Or you can just highlight it and "borrow" some of the html code. That is how everyone else did it to learn - why reinvent the wheel. Just don't use their basic layout - it would be copyright infringement. The html codes are yours for the using, though.

The best wa yto learn html codes is to go to W3Schools!, a website that is geared to training you how to write proper html tags and code. THey have a tutorial and examples you can cut and paste, and even an interactive tutorial that lets you try out code to see how it looks. A good site.

Next on the agenda is an FTP program - I like Fetch, but they only have a limited time demo now - you have to pay to registration fee to keep using it. I still think it is the best mac fetch program out there. There are others, but hte freeware ftp programs are buggy. This is one application you will have to pay for. You will use it to place files to and from an ftp server - yours! Actually, you can do all that without an ftp client program, but you need to see if people can upload, oor download using your ftp server - Fetch, I know works well with the ftpservers for macs. Got it? - Good.

Now all you need is the servers. next time - servers you already own.

Rural, out!

Mac Software - Just The Basics, Ma'am!

Software is important, but remember, your basic, out-of-the-mac has almost everything you need to create and maintain a server - whether its a mail server, an ftp server, a web server, a file server, or a unix server - how about FreeBSD and Apache servers - these are already in your computer, or on your startup disks. I have Mac OS X 10.3.9, commonly called Panther I recommend you upgrade any earlier version of Mac OS X to at least 10.3.9. If you buy the OS X from the store (on the internet, of course), it is likely 10.3.1 - Your computer will run a program called software update and it will tell you what you need to download from apple to bring your computer up to snuff - or you can bite the bullet and buy Mac OS X 10.4 called Tiger. Cost right now for the 10.3 system (Panther) - about $39.00; Tiger 10.4 will set you back $129.00 and you will still have to download the new updates as soon as you install it. Have you ever tried to download 100 MBs on a dialup connection? SLOOOWWWW!!. I did not upgrade to the new tiger; I just downloaded the 100 or so MEGS from apple over a period of nights and, viola! My iBook is fully 10.3.9 upgraded - except for the three security upgrades that apple tells me I need to install. Maybe later, eh?!? That's Canadian for "Yeah, right!", and no, I am not Canadian; I am 100 percent Texan born and bred. Nothing against our friends to the north - I just ain't one of them!. Ahem Back to the topic.

YOu also have in your mac out of the box Appleworks - a program that can do a database, a spreadsheet, Draw, Paint, and is also a text program similar to Microsoft Word, only way cheaper - it's free with your mac! You can also do PDF documents, both reading and making them. It is built in to the system. You have a calander program, a mail application, itunes, iphoto, idvd, imovie, etc. These programs are good for bringing in and manipulating graphics, sound, photos, digital video for putting on the web - that is the point of having this blog - web stuff and servers.

So, to review - in the basic mac, you have almost everything you will need to get up and running for web content creation, publishing, and serving. Next post will be about what extra software you might need or want for free or very little cost.

Rural, out!

My Basic ibook setup - Equipment

Macs all around! I have an older iBook G3 Blueberry 366 Hz. with 320 MB RAM, a cd-rom, airport card, modem and 10 GB hard drive. It is circa 1998. Obsolete? No way! If it has software and can connect to the internet, it is not obsolete. Slow? A little bit in comparison to the newer iBooks. My other main computer is an iBook G4 1.07 GHz, 768 MB RAM, Super drive DVD, Airport Extreme Card, 14" Screen, 40 GB hard drive. It is way faster than the Blueberry, but it is circa 2004. The latest iBooks are faster still. Remember, comparing hertz speed on different chips and computers i.e., PCs versus Macs, is not the way to tell speed. For the average user, most computers are speedy enough. Get the most speed you can for the money! To speed up your mac, always install more memory first.

The other equipment for my home setup is as follows; an Airport Extreme Base Station with dial-up modem, a cheap Lexmark 605 color printer, an extra phone line, and a cheap dial-up ISP that allows unlimited connection time. They all say "unlimited connection time", but their fine print says that you cannot use any auto features to stay connected 24/7. As a lawyer, I say they are pissing in the wind - offering unlimited time and then saying "not really" is not cool at all. Can you say consumer complaint? I knew you could! But I digress.

Optimally, you would want a high-speed, always on, broadband account with which you connect to the internet. But that is not gonna happen in the rural areas for quite some time. You can always do better, but remember the nature of this blog - cheaper, easier, leaner, and meaner. I use Apple Macintosh computers because they stay up and running way longer than Wintell Computers, they are easier to use, and they are a lot more easy to setup and configure. Adding new software is a snap! I worked my way through college (and while awaiting Law School to begin) as a computer tech at my college. I fixed all the macs on campus (400 or so). The other techs worked for the PC computer side - 10 -13 for about 1,000 PCs. They were busy all the time - I, on the other hand, skated because once a mac was set up properly, it tended to stay up. Since I knew the PC side, also - I used my spare time running fixit tickets for the PC users. Thinks about that for a moment - 1 part-time tech taking 17 hours keeping 400 macs up and running versus 10 -13 techs, some of which were fulltimers, to keep 1000 or so PCs up and running. This does not include the unix and server folks, or the software helpdesk, or the lab techs -(you know, those geeks who warm a chair in the computer lab reading a book or playing games who tell you "use that computer over there, and I send a repair ticket in").

That is a major reason why I use macs. Sometimes my ibooks run for weeks and weeks without a restart, and usually I only restart to clear up hard drive space - some programs eat up your hard drive space and never give it back unless you restart. Safari is bad about that. After you have loaded about 1000 web pages, each having 20 to A HUNDRED icons and graphics, a small hard drive fills up quite fast. Restart to clear up memory. Photoshop is (I use an older version) is notorious for using up hard drive space - 50 to a 100 MB per filter use or color change or mask or any of a hundred other things. When you open a photo and change the color just a little, that is 50 MB of space reserved by Photoshop - get the picture. Quit the program to reclaim the disk space, and sometimes, you just gotta restart to clear the space.

So, More RAM, More Hard Drive Space means a faster computer. I also have a couple of cheap firewire 30 BG hard drives that I use to back up my data. There you have it - my basic hardware - an old laptop, a newer laptop, an airport base station with modem, a printer and a couple of external hard drives. Next time, Basic software.

Rural, out!

Details, Details! It's all in the details - My quest

I decided to setup a server at my home using my old ibook g3 (blueberry) When I can find a good deal on a tower g4 or imac g4, I will upgrade. This is my uest to set up the servers using nothing but basic equipment, free or nearly free software, and minimal modem setup using good ole POTS (landline dialup phone line). I live in East Texas and cannot get DSL, ADSL, any form of broadband, no cable and satellite is out due to costs. The phone companies tell me I am just too far from a switching station to get dSL, etc. I live 6 miles from the nearest small town and 15 miles from the nearest bigger small town. I am on the fringe of cell phone reception from the nearest tower, and I lose signal strength unless I go outside on the porch or down to the end of the driveway to make my calls. See what I am up against? it sucks, but there are workarounds for the rural poweruser wannabe. Take heart! The next post will show you my setup and computers - all macs, of course.

Rural, out!