WebSTAR Manual & Technical Reference

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Identifying Your Site: IP, Host Name and DNS


To access your server, browsers and other clients have to know how to find you. The Internet (including the World Wide Web) has set up global standards that allow all systems to work together and find every other computer on the Internet. These consist of unique IP addresses for every computer on the Internet, host names such as "www.starnine.com" so we don't all have to remember the IP addresses, and Domain Name Servers (DNS) which hook them all together.

IP stands for "Internet Protocol": the overall set of standards defining communications for the Internet. TCP stands for "Transmission Control Protocol" (important for network communications).TCP/IP is used to refer to Internet networking in general.

WebSTAR version 3 can also support multiple web sites on one server. For more information, see Virtual Hosts: Hosting Multiple Web Sites.

IP Addresses

The Internet uses unique ID numbers called IP Addresses to identify each individual computer on the Internet.These addresses are represented as four sets of 8-bit numbers (numbers from 0 to 255), with periods between them. For example, StarNine's main web page is at:

198.211.93.9

There's a hierarchy from left to right roughly organizing the entire Internet, so that some networks can contain other networks. The last number on the right is the host ID number: it identifies the individual computer.

Your Server's IP Address

To serve data from WebSTAR, you must get at least one static IP address for your server machine, to identify yourself to the Internet. You may have one already: check your MacTCP or TCP/IP control panel. If there's an IP Address filled in, write it down for future reference.

If you don't have an IP address, you need to get one. Your process for doing so depends on your network connection:

If you dial up to your ISP at intervals, you probably have access to a set of shared, dynamic IP addresses. That's fine while you're browsing the Web or sending email, but it doesn't work for WebSTAR, because no one can find you. You must arrange for a more continuous connection to your ISP and get a static IP address.

If your network doesn't yet have TCP/IP access and you have to use a modem, you must either work with your Network Administrator to add TCP/IP support, or follow the instructions from your ISP to get a static IP address, and enter that in your TCP/IP or MacTCP Control Panel.

You can have more than one IP address for a single WebSTAR server: see Virtual Hosts: Hosting Multiple Web Sites.

Host Names

Because numbers are difficult to remember, the Internet evolved domain names for organizations and host names for individual computers. These are the familiar names you see when browsing, such as www.starnine.com, ftp.apple.com, and so on.

To be exact, the first part is the computer's unique "host name", the second part is the "domain name", and the last part is the "top level domain". This section will explain each of these elements in detail.

First Element: Host Name

The Host Name is the unique name for a computer within its domain. It's always the first element of a full name, and, with its domain and top-level domain suffix, creates the unique name of that computer on the Internet. For example, the StarNine website iswww.starnine.com. "www" is not unique on the web, but it is unique within StarNine.

For example, the StarNine main web server is:

www.starnine.com

  

and the server running the search engine is:

search.starnine.com

  

Both of these are host names in the "starnine.com" domain.

Defining your server host name requires you to work with your ISP or Network Administrator: see Your Server's Host Name for details.

Middle Elements: Domain Name

The middle part of the name, between the host and the top-level domain is the domain.

The domain can be an organization name, such as "starnine"; a product ("webcollage"); or any other word, ("searchcite").

Domains can include several levels of naming, usually getting more specific from left to right. For example, the host name www.ci.berkeley.ca.us has these elements:

For information on getting a domain name, see Your Server's Host Name.

Last Element: Top-Level Domain

Top-Level Domains (TLDs) are always the last element in a domain name.

In the US, TLDs are divided by type of organization

Hosts with interesting top-level domains include rs.internic.net, www.nasa.gov, sims.berkeley.edu, and www.npr.org .

Some US sites also use the two-letter state abbreviation followed by the "us" country code, like the City of Berkeley, above.

Most non-US sites use a two-letter country code as their top-level domain. A full list of official codes is available at:

http://www.bcpl.lib.md.us/~jspath/isocodes.html

  

Your Server's Host Name

Together, a host name, domain name and top-level domain will identify your WebSTAR server to the Internet.

You can have more than one host name for a single WebSTAR server: see Virtual Hosts: Hosting Multiple Web Sites.

Your Domain Name and Top-Level Domain

If you are working within a larger organization, they probably already have a domain name. Therefore, the domain of your server will be the host name followed by the domain of the organization.

Registering a Domain Name

If you are independent, then you can register your own domain, and use it for your WebSTAR server. Your ISP should be able to help you register it. As of the time of this writing, the Domain Name Registry in the United States is run by the InterNIC at:

http://rs.internic.net/rs-internic.html

  

Your Host Name

If you control your own domain, you can choose any host name you like. Common practice is to make the host name for web servers "www". Doing so gives information to people browsing the site, and lets them type in the name even if they don't have a bookmark. The DNS system will automatically route requests to your server.

While the host name is the name of your server, it must be included in the Domain Name system. Therefore, you'll have to work with your Network Administrator or ISP to register it.

If you're in an organization, your computer may already have a host name. If you think you already have a host name, you can use the IPNameTool application from the AG Group, included on the WebSTAR CD. Enter your IP address and it will look up the name for you.

If you don't have a host name, or you want to change the name, you should arrange to have the Network Administrator help you name your server according to organization policies. They will also register it with their DNS server.

Serving Several Hosts

You can use the WebSTAR web server to respond to several host names, even in different domains, which can share the same IP address. In this case, you must use the WebSTAR Virtual Hosts panel to specify the names and IP addresses (if appropriate). For instructions, see Virtual Hosts: Hosting Multiple Web Sites.

DNS

To link the host names and the IP addresses, the Internet uses a system called the Domain Name Service (DNS) protocol. DNS servers keep databases of these name-address combinations and work together to keep the system up to date.

Your ISP or network administrator is probably running a DNS server. To enter your WebSTAR server into this system, you should request that your ISP or the network administrator make sure your server host name or names and IP address is in their DNS database. They will broadcast this information to other DNS servers across the Internet, and everyone will be able to find you shortly.

Running Your Own DNS server

If you are independent, or have a cooperative network administrator, you can run your own DNS server. This allows you to add Virtual Domains quickly, and to alias several IP Addresses to one Domain Name, for load balancing, mirroring and other purposes. There are several Mac DNS servers available, for information, see:

http://www.starnine.com/extendingwebstar.html

  

Port Numbers

The TCP/IP standard defines port numbers which allow one machine to serve several different kinds of data, such as HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SMTP, POP and so on. The default services are specified in the range 1 to 1000.

WebSTAR Default Port Numbers

WebSTAR allows you to override the default port numbers: see Setting the Web Server Port.

The WebSTAR Admin application and Plug-In also use ports to communicate for remote administration. The default number for each server is the port number of server + 1000.

Web Server

You should not run SOCKS on the WebSTAR machine, because it also uses port 1080.

Secure (SSL) Web Server
FTP Server
Proxy Server

Firewall Issues

If you have a network security firewall in your company, your machines are probably limited to serving TCP requests from within your company. If you want to serve the Internet rather than an Intranet, you will probably have to ask your network administrator to open "holes" in the firewall for the appropriate ports on your WebSTAR server. Otherwise the firewall will refuse all URLs for your server from outside your company on those ports. WebSTAR Admin also communicates via TCP/IP. Therefore, to administer a WebSTAR server remotely, you must have a hole in your firewall for the Admin application port.

All settings and User files have the WebSTAR file Creator code (starting with "WWW"w) so they will never be served by WebSTAR.

Firewalls are not required for WebSTAR server security.


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