What does it take to convert ones computer to work as a web server ? You need a stable and secure network operating system, a web server software, a database which scales well and your choice of scripting language.
The interesting thing is that it is quite easy to convert a computer to work as a web server using only free technologies. We have a plethora of free OSes like Linux, FreeBSD and Open Solaris which are a robust and secure alternative to the proprietary ones, a very popular web server software in Apache and a robust free database in MySQL. I need not tell that PHP is one of the most used dynamic scripting language on the web and is the preferred choice for building most websites. So is that all that is needed to set up a web server? Not quite... You also need to have the expertise in configuring the various parameters of the above mentioned software.
In a previous article, I had explained how to serve webpages from ones machine using Apache web server.
Dave Tufts has written a three part series on setting up ones machine as a web server. He has used FreeBSD as his choice of OS and Apache, MySQL and PHP as the web server, database and scripting language respectively. In the first part of the article, he lists the steps needed to install FreeBSD on ones machine which includes the ideal partitioning scheme for this purpose. In the next part, he takes the readers through installing Apache, MySQL and PHP and interestingly he does it by compiling from source. And in the last part, he plows into configuring apache webserver.