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What is a webserver?


What is a webserver?

Simplified; a webserver is a collection of software-programs which are able to deliver HTML documents, stylesheets, images etcetera based on requests (using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol).

Whenever you start your browser and visit a webpage a HTTP Request is submitted to the webserver, the webserver intrepetates this and responds in returning HTML documents, images, stylesheets etc.

Let's focus on what is happening on the webserver-side. Say; we tried to visit; http://www.webdevelopment-school.com/welcome.html, let's break up this URL to see what we have got;

Part of URL Description
http:// This is the definition of the used protocol, http stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. Other examples are https, ftp etc.
www.webdevelopment-school.com This is the requested domain
/welcome.html This is the requested page, also know as the request uri


When the HTTP request reaches the webserver there are a couple of things the webserver will do:

  1. Check if the requested domain is configured (www.webdevelopment-school.com)
  2. If it's configured it'll look the requested page up in the configured directory
  3. Return / serve the requested page

So we could say that a webserver can manage multiple websites, each website has it's own configuration. In this configuration we define the location of the files for that particular domain.

Examples of some webservers: nginx, IIS, Apache.

We will focus on Apache


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