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Centos Virtual LAMP server -- Part II

*Part 1 of this series is here*

Customizing your LAMP server

Unix people are probably familiar with the father of the DNS system -- the /etc/hosts file. The hosts file has a simple format:

ipaddress hostname

In the days prior to DNS, people would update a master hosts file and copy it around to all the servers in the enterprise. Surprisingly Windows versions also support this file, as a way of overriding DNS, so we can use this to our advantage, by adding an entry for our development server. In this example, I'm going to use, which is not a real server.

One important reason to do this is that Apache and other web servers, use a feature of HTTP 1.1 that specifies a header field named "Host:". This mechanism facilitates the service of multiple domains from a single apache server, through the configuration of apache virtual host (or vhost) entires. The server uses the Host name in the HTTP header to determine how to route requests, so without host name resolution. you have to use non-standard ports and other mechanisms that are more trouble than they're worth. a

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Run a Centos Lamp development server on XP, Vista or Win 7 using VirtualBox

If you use a Windows based workstation or notebook computer virtualization offers a way for you to run a linux server environment using the same linux distribution and configuration you'll use in production. Virtualization allows you to explore clustering and network setups that can't be tested on your workstation alone and simplifies your development environment by keeping the LAMP environment contained inside a VM.

While VMWare offers these capabilities with their VMWare workstation product, Sun has created a free alternative called VirtualBox, with many of the same capabilities in VMWare workstation. VirtualBox runs on a variety of intel chip based operating systems including OS/X, Windows XP & Vista, Linux and Solaris, and supports the installation of many different "Guest" operating systems. In this article, I'll detail the installation and configuration of Centos. Centos is a great choice for a Linux server operating system, as it is widely used by hosting companies due to its Redhat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) core.

Our goals in this setup will be:

• Centos server running the LAMP stack
• XP can be used to develop code using the IDE of your choice.
• The XP Workstation can communicate with the linux server using standard tools: putty, winscp, firefox
• The setup works even when no other networking is available. When a network is available, no network reconfiguration is required.
• Use XP to setup private domain resolution so apache vhost configurations can be tested.

Let's get started.

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