Whether you’re a budding web developer or a jack-of-all-trades administrator, sooner or later you’ll need to know how to get a web server up and running.
Most web servers these days run either Windows or Linux. Windows may be your choice if you’re making use of a server in an existing domain or perhaps integrating with NTFS, Active Directory or other Windows API’s – but for a dedicated, light-weight, secure and free platform; you can’t go past Linux.
Of course, there’s not just the operating system. You need to consider the HTTP Server itself, that is; Apache or Internet Information Server (IIS). Apache is the tried and tested platform and most open source PHP applications (like WordPress, Joomla etc.) are built to run natively on Apache, as they use per-folder .htaccess directives for URL re-writing.
Suffice to say (and without getting too far off-topic), If you strictly (simply?) want to run Apache/PHP/MySQL on Windows we would recommend the XAMPP bundle. The installer is easy to step through, there’s lots of support on the Apache Friends website and it’s likely the fastest path to getting these kinds of applications up and running on Windows. Conversely, if you need to implement .htaccess directives in IIS – you can do that too! These files can be converted using IIS Manager and Microsoft has a complete write up on converting these directives to web.config files for IIS.
This article will cover both CentOS 6.5 Linux with Apache and Microsoft Windows Server 2012R2 with IIS, so you can experiment with both platforms and see which one is right for you.
Lets get started!