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  1. Apache resourcesThe "Apache HTTP Server" (often called just "Apache" for short, though technically, "Apache" are the creators of the program, not the program itself) is the most popular web server today, and is the one bundled with most of the packages above. One of the reasons it's favored over competing products like Microsoft's IIS web server is because it's open source software, and can therefore be made (i.e. be compiled) to run on a large range of operating systems, not just Windows. Any Apache related documentation you can find anywhere, you can try to apply on any package that contains Apache, or you can do it on the Apache you've downloaded and installed yourself. Official site: http://httpd.apache.org/ Official documentation (for the current version): http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/ Official download page: http://httpd.apache.org/download.cgi (look for a "Win32 Binary" if you're using Windows; If you don't plan to serve HTTPS pages, it doesn't matter which of the two binaries you get.) Note worthy articles from the official documentation: Configuration Files - One important addition is that by default, on Windows, "httpd.conf" can be found in "C:\Program Files (x86)\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\conf" (on XP and 32 bit versions of Vista and 7, without the "(x86)" part). Be sure to open this file to get your "aha" moment. Mapping URLs to Filesystem Locations Authentication, Authorization and Access Control Apache mod_rewrite - before trying to do rewrites on your own, you should probably first try to learn "regular expressions" (if you haven't already; Google it) and run some of those examples, just to get a feeling of the overall process. .htaccess files Warning: If you install Apache, or a package containing Apache, do NOT install IIS or a package containing IIS. There is a way to configure them to run side by side, but if this is the first time you're dealing with a web server, this is not a burden you want to have.Warning: Don't forget to restart Apache when you make changes to "httpd.conf" or an included ".conf" file! Changes will not be applied unless you do that. To be sure, shut down, and then start Apache instead of using the "Restart" option. You don't need to restart Apache for configurations in ".htaccess" files to take effect.
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  2. Full Web Server PackagesWhen you first start dealing with a web server, you'll likely find it somewhat hard to install and configure all of the popular "extra" components of your setup. This includes for example PHP or MySQL. The following packages include the Apache web server, along with PHP, MySQL, and often also include some other extras that you'll eventually need.You have to install only ONE of these packages - the overlapping stuff they contain will surely create problems if you try to have multiple packages at a time, or try to install a component they contain separately. It doesn't really matter which one you choose - they all offer the same basic things, but they have different ways of letting you easily control the whole thing. XAMPP - A cross platform web server package. Contains Apache and a lot of stuff in addition to the things you're sure to need. Don't forget to read the "Question" parts on the download page, and "Question 2" in particular. WAMPServer - A minimum package, containing fewer things beyond the Apache web server, specifically tailored for Windows. Don't forget to also read the "Presentation" page, and the "How to start" section in particular. Microsoft Web Platform Installer - A small Windows program that downloads and installs many components that you can select during the installation. Installs Microsoft's IIS web server, among other things you may need. MAMP - A MAC OS X tailored package. Contains Apache, all popular MAC OS X compatible PHP extensions and a few other things you may need. Don't forget to check it's documentation page. Keep in mind that most (if not all) packages limit your ability to easily configure more "advanced" features, and they do them for you from a certain "common" file instead. For example, many let you switch between PHP versions, but they preserve certain settings across versions, and crash if you try to do things differently. When you reach the point where this "bureaucracy" is bothering you, you're probably ready to try to manually configure Apache and any extra components that you truly need.Warning: If you have installed IIS (see below), make sure you have disabled it or uninstalled it before you proceed with installing any of these packages. There is a way to configure IIS and an Apache package to run side by side, but if this is the first time you're dealing with a web server, this is not a burden you want to have.Warning: Package or not, you must still not forget to restart Apache for configuration settings (see below) to take effect. Depending on the way PHP is running, you may have to restart Apache for PHP setting changes too. Check out the documentation of your package to see how you can restart Apache and/or other components.
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