Quest for the cheapest, smallest and easiest webserver the world has ever seen

The requirements:

i386 compatible cpu or better
budget 10mbit pci utp ethernet card or better
any video card
16mb ram or better

The installation method:

start up system , pop in cdrom, boot with cdrom , press enter , reboot and it’s installed. No user interaction whatsoever. Sorta like Knoppix, except no gui. No, not even for your lan. Just use for the initial install.

The management:

Via http on another system

The software that should be installed:

a webserver that supports http and https

Note : No kde, no gnome, no weird other packages that webserver don’t need but lots of Linux distro install anyway.


As already described the webmaster should be able to set everything up via http. Uploading webfiles, uploading bulletin board software, phpnuke and setting users and passwords.

A webmaster should be able to browse to and see a nice graphical interface to set everything. Automatically reconfigure scripts and set permissions correctly.


Almost everyone has some poor old 386 or something collecting dust in their attic. They’d like to use it as a webserver, but the linux installation methods are awful. If Knoppix can autodetect everything and have a nice linux desktop ready, why shouldn’t you be able to do the same for installation of a webserver? Heck, with minimal configuration you can transform an old pc in a firewall using Smoothwall.

Any ideas? :slight_smile: Perhaps this idea ?
EZ-NOS webserver … is that a joke? - no, it’s for real

Build it on Freedos, if you don’t believe there is a legitimate licenced MS-DOS for the machine.

Cool, but no php

I’m currently downloading Trustix and Yes Linux. Especially the latter looks pretty good. See here.

Be realistic, 386-class computers are very slow and lack ram even for displaying static content. You’ll need at least 4Mb (8Mb perferable) for a basic kernel and micro_httpd or such and expect some swapping. I’d say that below 32Mb of RAM PHP (excluding a database server), httpd + ftpd is way out of question and not many PHP applications works without a database anyways so you’re probably better off with Perl and perferably Penitum-class CPU unless you want to wait for ages to display a dynamic page. Webgui usually is usually a poor solution when it comes to customizing services (cpanel etc isn’t really that great) so in that case a shell is much more useful. You will need at least 64Mb or more if you want to host a forum or a CMS with somewhat responsiveness. As for firewall dists m0n0wall is probably the best around…

Smoothwall has been running for several years here on a p1 166 with 64mb ram.

And your point is? That you’re running an old unsecure firewall?

old, yes. unsecure, perhaps. so far nobody ever invaded me.
easy as hell : oh yes.

Currently testing the Yes webserver on a Celeron 600 with 128mb ram and 4.3GB scsi disk.

It’s still great while it doesn’t fulfill your requirements, that doesn’t make any sense. Almost anything can run for years, but keeping it secure and up to date is more important.

So far my firewall has been very satisfying. I have never been hacked and never did it really fail to operate. And if it doesn’t, it restarts itself. Plus it didn’t need any configuring except for some usb driver and ip addresses.

THAT’s what i call user friendly. Not some lousy endless-configurating bsd system.

Back on topic

Thanks to linux terrible 3com drivers (if you don’t run 3c90xcfg or similar first) i’ve not been able to setup the webserver via the Yes! os. Can’t even ping the damn machine. Bloody linux and it’s special drivers.

Tested Trustix as well. It starts up and i can ping. Unfortunately configuring it sucks. Back to the drawing board i guess.

Instead of jumping into stupid conclusions why dont read up on it? m0n0wall is based FreeBSD and it’s very simple and small (which you cannot say about smoothwall) and is recommended by Soekris Engineering and PC Engines. So yeah, if you dont want to read a few pages regarding the software in question which takes about an hour or care to tweak software (maximize performance) such as the kernel, httpd, mysql (or whatever you’re running), firewall etc webguis are decent (and usually very limited) otherwise they should be avoided like the plauge. As far as I know 3C905* is pretty much as plug 'n play card, least mine and my friends is both in Win and FreeBSD. My conclusion is that you should go back to your “point 'n click” Windows because it’s “user friendly”.


Before we get in a fight here, let’s start with the fact i don’t care about linux. I don’t have any experience nor the time nor the mood nor the expertise nor the willingless to learn anything about linux configuration setups.
That was the first intention of the thread. Got that?

I have had more than 25 personal computers. I have managed to set up linux on about 5 of them. All other machines had errors, had no drivers, no opengl installed and were slow as hell. Strangely i had never trouble setting up windows on all 25 of them. Bash me all you want with your knowledge, but the fact remains that Linux doesn’t run on all hardware. And i even haven’t touched the configuration hell it brings. It may be free, but it certainly isn’t free in time and user friendliness.

I’ve been reading op on that m0n0wall firewall. It seems like a very good firewall, too bad it’s only a nic to nic firewall and can’t use modems.

Unfortunately i don’t have an ethernet modem, just a crappy usb modem. But hey… guess what? It works :slight_smile:

if this is your conclusion, please keep it to yourself. flame him in pms, and keep on topic here.

It is on topic and it’s not really flaming (since it’s a slang the definition may differ from person to person but I guess #1 and #5 sums it up pretty much ,, I’m just saying that he shouldn’t jump into conclusions without at least having some kind of fact(s) especially when both are very similar to each other. And why do you jump me in the first place? The rules does not cover ‘Netiquette’ although I do admit it would be nice if it were included. Anyhow if we go back to topic… The cloest you get is install some stock version of Linux (Red Hat or such) and run Plesk or Cpanel on top but it’s not really free heh. You could otherwise try to aquire a Sun Cobalt which have an Administraion WebGUI (at least those running Red Hat). Otherwise you have to make your own distribution/image as far as I know.

Let’s revive this thread a little :slight_smile:

Why? Because it’s still the first hit on Google when you search for “the easisest webserver in the world” !

I may have found a nice complete package for all you webserver needs and it’s free as well. Runs on a windows os though.

Ok then, I’ll add a link to the Xitami webserver -

MySQL and PHP on Win32… Woohoo, performance killer kombo^2
Installing Windows and Uniformserver without any user interaction? Good luck!
Phear my FreeBSD 5.4 server running PostgreMySQL :slight_smile: