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Joel on Software

Serving ASP.Net Pages from DSL Home (Business) Com

Hi All,

I currently have a ATT Cable Connection at home on a computer
with XP Home installed, the .Net Framework and VSNet. All works
well.

I'm considering switching to Verizon or DirectTV DSL (first
a FREE offer to try it out) to get a Static IP address so
that I can serve my own WebPages (possibly eventually drop
my webhosting service) and also run my own EMail server - I
have a newsletter now on Yahoo - want to get more control
over it.

So my question is - with DSL and a Static IP address - will
I be able to serve ASP.Net webpages right off of my
computer? And since I have XP Home on it (NO IIS server
included) - I was thinking of using Apache server.

What problems do I face in trying to do this?

Thanks Sooo Much
Gene

Eugene Mortimore
Monday, October 14, 2002

Well - Apache should run fine as far as i can remember. Getting it serving asp.NET pages might be trickier. I'm still not sure how far down the road this is really. I think it's still only commercially available - http://www.newsfactor.com/perl/story/18740.html - so as for running it on Apache out of the box, sadly I doubt it.

As to more general issues - ask yourself whether you wan't to be supporting a server. I'd also say someone else is going to have to host your DNS. You could do it yourself, but i'd try and avoid this if I were you.

If you have some specific questions, ask away. I've set one or two of these up before. I've usually reverted to paying someone to take the hassle away by hosting remotely as well...

Andrew Cherry
Monday, October 14, 2002

As to more general issues - ask yourself whether you wan't
to be supporting a server. I'd also say someone else is
going to have to host your DNS. You could do it yourself,
but i'd try and avoid this if I were you.

  Andrew, Thanks Sooo Much! for your quick reply.
 
  Please expand on the possible need to have someone else
  hosting my DNS (domain name service?)- is that a paid
  service? I'm a little fuzzy on that idea. Right now I have
  my (fairly low traffic) webpage hosted on a paid service -
  I'd like to eliminate that cost and be able to use the
  same page URL - so my search engine placement would NOT be
  effected.

  Would the DSL connection provide enough speed for someone
  surfing to my page?

If you have some specific questions, ask away. I've set one
or two of these up before. I've usually reverted to paying
someone to take the hassle away by hosting remotely as
well...

  Do I understand you to mean you had TWO ways of serving
  your WebSite - through your DSL and a separate webhosting
  service?
 
 

Eugene Mortimore
Monday, October 14, 2002

OK - i'll elaborate a little further on where the hard parts and issues tend to come in here... this ignores the issue of asp.net really, and tends more towards the general hosting.

Using XP Home you won't be able to host DNS servers. Not natively anyway. That capacity is included in say, Win2k server, and .NET server, but not XP.

Even if you could, it's still a complex setup. You'd have to register things with Nominet (from memory) to directly host your own DNS server (primary DNS) - as you can see - this gets really complex, quite quickly.

There are companies that will host DNS for varying prices, from free to expensive, best bet on that is a net search. Basically what they provide is DNS servers which are "known" if you like, which when people request your site name by it's URL, the domain authority sends that request to whomever is hosting your DNS, who in turn give the IP of the server of your site.

I'm not sure i'm explaining this well, but DNS is not something you can play with and learn (this from experience).

On another note - you talk of speed - it might be quick enough for low volume sites, but think also of things like uptime. Server farms have backup servers, uninterruptable power supplies, etc. - you don't. Figures above 99.5% uptime are generally considered reasonable in the business market. A home DSL connection will never get near this for so many reasons.

It seems a nice idea to eliminate the cost, have control over what you run, etc. but in the end, you find there are reasons that companies can make profits hosting. It's a major undertaking to do it well.

I've experimented with this a few times, and always found that when I factored in the costs of my time, poor uptime, loss of business because of this, etc. it always worked out cheaper just to pay a host. The economies of scale have you on this one!

This might seem rather negative, and if you just want this for fun, testing, learning etc. then i'd say dive in and get your hands dirty. It can be fun (and hair-tearingly frustrating at times).

Bottom line - if this is for a business - or anything which is important - you're going to have some costs involved with third party hosting.

Hope this helps, and if not - well - ask away!

Andrew Cherry
Monday, October 14, 2002

DNS should be a non issue.  When I registered my domain name with register.com they let me enter the IP address that I wanted to associate it with.  You can change it at any time and it takes a few hours to propagate to all the other DNS servers on the web.

Rhys
Monday, October 14, 2002

I believe that hosting a server on XP home violates the OS license. XP pro is theoretically limited to 5 connections at a time. Not that anyone's really going to check up on you. ;-)

To be honest, if you want to run a server at home, you need to be running a server class OS. Either 2k server, or a linux box. XP home's just not gonna cut it.

Chris Tavares
Monday, October 14, 2002

Thanks Sooo Much! for all the ideas - please keep them
coming.

I'm going to sidestep the webpage issue for the moment and
ask about creating a Mail server on the DSL home connection.
I want to gain total control over my NewsLetter - I now use
Yahoo.

Are there similar issues here as with serving a WebSite?

There would I go to get the necessary Mail server software
tools? Hopefully FREE ?

Thanks Sooo Much
Gene

Eugene Mortimore
Monday, October 14, 2002

Setting up DNS, and the rest of the services, while not trivial (DNS specially tends to be tricky), is not the problem. The thing to consider is, is that the computer you use for working? Then using it as a 24x7 server is quite out of the question... mainly because if the system goes down (and, being a PC for "normal use", it will - either because there is a reboot needed to install some SW, or the app crashes, or...) then the server goes down with it... and the CPU cycles used to animate your DVDs will go against those avaliable for serving...

Now, let's say you have a second PC to use as a server. For OS, let's assume a minimum of Windows 2000 Pro (not having used WXP, I'm not sure, but from what I've read, I guess that "Home" as a server is a no-no). Of course, then you won't be able to multi-home (ie, have different "virtual servers"), or to be able to limi access per IP, or.... but for a simple setup I'd say its enough... Though I wouldn't be in the least surprised to lear that, to _serve_ ASP.Net, you might need W2k Server....

So now you have your work computer, and your server. And an UPS, of course. And a good (ie, 256 KB Upload minimum) connection to the net.
Do you get a lot of email? Big files? Because your incoming mail will be fighting for the bandwith with the "ASP.Net" server. So when your friend send you the 25 MB Mpeg of the last party, his emal server contacts your server, and starts sending an email. No matter how "bad" his ISP is, their servers will probably be able to fill up your bandwith while his email is arriving, So, for a few minutes (5, 10... or more) your server is not respondig..
Of course, you could set up the server with bandwith throttling, so no process can use up all your pipe. But that's not just "point and click".

Of course, you'll be using the net while you work.... or maybe getting the latest MS Service Pack, a little under.... 150! MBs!! Mmmm. there goes the bandwith!!

MMMmmm.. Connected 24x7. And I guess, trying to get as much traffic as you can.... Of course, when the script kiddies come 'knocking, you are ready? I mean, fully patched, all unneccesary services closed, a good firewall in place....
And then, for those times when the server just goes belly up and dies... a good Backup. You _did_ make your backups, didn't you? Oh, dear....

I'm not trying to say it's impossible. It's _not_. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt (though I've tended to use Linux+Apache, exim as mail server, and no ASP.Net, but the idea is similar). BUT keeping it running is a tiresome problem, you have to babysit the server. And it takes almost as much work to babisit one as it does to babysit a hundred. That's why hosting companies do make a living ;)

So, while I'd encourage you to do it as a learning experience, I would recommend against it for a business (unless having full control of your server is _critical_ -maybe because you're developing server sofware-, and you have a pretty good pipe to the net). I've told the same to all my clients when they asked. If your business doesn't requier for the core revenue, to have the expertise inhouse to do it, then you're better off not doing it.

My 0.002

F. Javier Jarava
Monday, October 14, 2002

I think everyone is overcomplicating the DNS issue.  Just go to www.dns2go.com and have them handle your dynamic IP/DNS using your current AT&T cable connection.

Giorgio Galante
Monday, October 14, 2002

The apache running ASP.NET thing is pretty easy and cool. I am doing it for a client right now that is very anti IIS but wants to use C# and J#. Basically you run a C# web server that uses the .NET framework to process the ASP.NET code. Then in apache you set up a proxy to redirect requests to this other "server" whenever a page is requested below a certain directory.

for example

www.yourserver.com/asp/Test.aspx

becomes

www.yourserver.com:8080/Test.aspx

Microsoft or someone else has created a complete stand alone example of this C# Web site processor called Cassini. You can use it as is or use it to create a custom web processor. I am currently modifying it for a client to make it a Win2K Service.

Download Cassini at http://www.asp.net/Projects/Cassini/Download/


the Apache httpd.conf changes are something like this...

LoadModule proxy_module modules/mod_proxy.so
LoadModule rewrite_module modules/mod_rewrite.so
AddModule mod_rewrite.c
AddModule mod_proxy.c
ProxyPass /aspnet http://127.0.0.1:8080/
ProxyPassReverse /aspnet http://127.0.0.1:8080/

Where /aspnet is the virtual directory you want redirected and 8080 is the port you told Cassini to use.

So in my case I change www.domain.com/aspnet/ABC.aspx
to 127.0.0.1:8080/ABC.aspx which is fine since it is a local call from the apache server doing a forward.

Hope this helps.

Paul Leska
Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Between 1998 and early 2001 I hosted eight servers on an SDSL connection from Northpoint.  When they went bust I had to stop my hosting business.  I was down for about three months, got my stuff back up with multi-link ISDN which was a really *bad* idea.  It worked but I had to have consistent redials on the ISDN because Ameritech would boot me off the switch after 48 hours.  Blah.

After this I got Ameritech ADSL, which is perhaps the worst DSL in the universe.  ADSL isn't horrible for hosting, but I wouldn't want to do more than couple of websites and perhaps a low traffic mail server.  If you ever intend to get Slashdotted or link to a significant number of high traffic sites -- watch out!  DSL falls through the floor with exceptionally heavy traffic.

What people here are telling you -- that it's a lot of work and that you have to babysit the servers -- is mostly true.  It is a lot of work, that's why I no longer have any internet connect serves at my office, I colocate.  And, if you're really serious about having your own servers and having complete control over them, then this is the way I'd go for sure.  I learned a boatload of stuff doing everything myself, but it was a pain and it cost lots of $$$.

There are colo facilities all across the US that will give you dedicated bandwidth for hosting, on reliable DS1, DS3, or OCx networks.  They have cooled computer rooms, power backups that run off of diesel or natural gas, and usually offer backup services if you want them.  You'll be surprised at how inexpensive this can be.  If you go to http://www.racklogic.com they have some really affordable 1U servers which are ideal for websites and e-mail servers.

I run several servers now colo and control them remotelly with NetMeeting or VNC.  My cable modem service works well for this and I'm not sucking up all of my bandwidth with SMTP MTA transfers.

If you're a network admin and *really* want to know how all of this stuff works, then go ahead and do it.  You'll certainly learn and become an expert at it.  If you're a programmer, it's not worth the effort.  You'll constantly be sidetracked with network admin junk and stop coding.  It isn't worth it if you stop coding. ;-}

My last piece of advice is to use Register.com, not Network Solutions (VeriSign).  Register is awesome.  They'll host your DNS for you; I've never had a problem with their service.  They have a great web based tool to configure any domain you register with them and it's absolutely the best thing you can do if you're hosting.

Good luck.

Jeffrey D. Panici
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

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