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A testing platform for web stuff

I don't really want to set up IIS and Apache etc on my development PC, I'd much rather have a separate box for all that stuff, for me to play with.
But I can't afford to buy any modern version of Windows Server - I could just about afford WinXP Pro.

I see the following options:

1)Buy XP Pro and put it on my spare PC, use this as a web server. for and JSP
2)Rent some cheap web space and use their installed software. Saves money up front, and reduces setup costs
3)Get the free 180 day trial of Win2K3 and forget about everything for 6 months.
4)Get a free copy of Win2K8 Beta, which conveniently includes IIS7, .net 3.0, etc.

Any advice? I should say I suck at configuring things, I like to install and have things work or I start wasting many hours.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
This is why god created virtual machines.
Aspiring College Developer
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I think John is being overly ambitious.

If John can't afford true test servers or virtual machines with legitimate copies of Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 2008, various flavors of IIS, Apache, SQL Server, Oracle, ad nausaem, then he should just pick one niche and focus on getting a version 1.0 out the door so that potential customers can start using it and provide some feedback.

For example, if he's planning to target corporations and other midsized businesses, stick with ASP.NET, Windows 2000, IIS 6, SQL Server 2002 (I think) and forget about Apache and JSP for now. I wouldn't feel all that comfortable splitting development time across multiple languages and multiple server platforms until I knew there was at least some interest in my prototype.

If you're setting up web servers for general "fooling around", you're better off picking just one technology and getting reasonably proficient with it first, instead of simultaneously trying to learn ASP.NET, JSP, RoR, TurboGears, Zope, etc etc all at the same time.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
If you are only interested in ASP.NET and JSP then this might not work for you, however...

I recently installed XAMPP ( on my desktop (Vista) and laptop (XP) to develop some web applications using Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

XAMPP includes:
Apache, MySQL, PHP + PEAR, Perl, mod_php, mod_perl, mod_ssl, OpenSSL, phpMyAdmin, Webalizer, Mercury Mail Transport System for Win32 and NetWare Systems v3.32, Ming, JpGraph, FileZilla FTP Server, mcrypt, eAccelerator, SQLite, and WEB-DAV + mod_auth_mysql.

XAMPP will run on Win98, 2000, XP. And although the website doesn't say it supports Vista, I've been using it on Vista at work with no problems.
Steve Stepp Send private email
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I'm looking to do contracxting/freelance work, and I need the ability to tinker in both JAva and .net technologies. I'm familiar with JSP but need to play with a few related things.

I definitely would need to support both - I don't have a product but may suddenly need to test something on a particular technology.

So, what is the cheapest way? It is the server software which is the problem. Someone recommended me to get on some MS partner program for very cheap software but I imagine it is not easy to get accepted?
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The cheapest way is to have two virtual machines, a linux box running apache, etc and then a Windows box running Win 2K8 Beta with IIS.
Aspiring College Developer
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Luckily, I'm not short a spare PC or two. It's pushing the 2K8 requirements but from expereicne you can run windows on much lower specs than they recommend. Of course it wouldn't be great for a real server, but for a development server I'm sure it'll be OK - I'm sure I heard you can run 2K3 on a PII or even lower, except for very long boot-up times!

Has any one tried 2K8 Beta 3 yet? Is it particularly flaky? And would you recommend the standard or web server version? Is web server version the standard one with bits taken out?
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Check out the Action Pack - doesn't require you to be certified and is very cheap (in the UK we pay about £200 pa):

Doesn't get you Visual Studio but there should be enough to set up testing servers etc.
surreal Send private email
Thursday, July 26, 2007
"I'm looking to do contracxting/freelance work, and I need the ability to tinker in both JAva and .net technologies."

Pick one.

It's counter-intuitive but if I'm going to hire you as a contractor, I vastly prefer an "expert" very experienced with one language and able to do complex jobs quickly, well, and largely bug free, as opposed to someone who's only "intermediate" in two or more languages.

On Craig's List, it's not uncommon to see people looking for a ASP.NET developer with the intention of cranking out an entire website for a small business in a week. I will admit knowing both JSP and ASP means there are more job opportunities, but you're going to have trouble getting hired if they're all looking for a year's worth of experience and you only have six months worth of each.

Having said that, you don't have to lock yourself into any one technology. You just need to master one technology long enough that you can get some money coming in. You can then invest your profits into expanding your skills, including buying additional test servers or more memory for virtual machine images.

Plus, the more you know of one lanaguage, the easier it is to learn others; you will reach a point where you know all of the concepts and the only thing that differs between JSP and ASP.NET, is the syntax.

We have a guy here who's been doing websites in JSP for about six years now (going back to Servlets). He picked up ColdFusion in two days just by looking at the examples. He picked up ASP.NET/C# in about a week and it took him that long only because he had to learn how to use Visual Studio, code-behinds, master pages and the like. He was able to learn this stuff so quickly because he knew the web programming paradigm inside out and just had to learn a new syntax.

I know this is besides the original point, but trust me, just pick one. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
1)I already work in JSP in my main job.
2)The stuff I'm learning this for is more on the design side. I don't need to be an expert on every class, but have a slightly more high-level /theoretical knowledge of how technologies work. I've already been doing this but I have to go too far into the unknown sometimes, so I want to be able to check something I'm designing is feasible.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

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