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From André Warnier>
Subject Re: [users@httpd] Re: Help - Name Server - Maybe
Date Sun, 01 Feb 2009 22:31:12 GMT
Eric Covener wrote:

> FWIW It's quite common to not be able to access your webserver with
> it's external IP address from within your LAN.

Allright, I'll try to help.  This has not much to do with Apache, and 
more with basic TCP/IP.  So let's start at the beginning.

First your internal LAN.

I) computers work with IP addresses, not with names.  That may surprise 
you, but it is so.
When you tell your browser to get "" :
- it first looks in its own local "hosts" file to see if there is a 
translation for "" into an IP address like
The local hosts file can be found :
under Unix/Linux, in /etc/hosts
under Windows, in windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
- if the local hosts file does not provide a translation, then your 
browser asks "the DNS system".  That is something complicated, but 
basically it means that it will need the IP address of another computer 
known as a DNS Server, and it will send a message to that IP address, 
asking for the IP address of ""
- if the browser cannot find finally an IP address for 
with any of the above, it gives up and tells you so.

II) where your local computers get their own IP address :
there are 2 ways :
- either they are set up with a fixed IP address
- or they are set up to ask a DHCP server to give them one. For this 
second possibility, the computer (usually when it starts), sends a 
special "broadcast" message on the local network, asking if a nice DHCP 
server would please give them a new IP address.  If any DHCP server is 
listening on the local network, it will consult its internal tables to 
see which address it could give (it has a range of addresses), among the 
ones which are still free (if it has already given an address away, it 
will not give it away a second time).
That is why, when you turn off your DHCP server, your stations are not 
working anymore : because they are set up to request an IP address from 
a DHCP server, and there is none active, so they don't get one.  And if 
they do not have an IP address themselves, they cannot use TCP/IP and 
thus their Internet access doesn't work anymore.

III) A workstation can use a variable IP address given by a DHCP server, 
but a server should have a fixed IP address.

That is because for a workstation it does not matter : nobody will try 
to find it, it just needs to find the others.
But for a server, it's different : other stations need to find it, so it 
better have an address that does not change all the time.
(For the same reason that you can make a phone call to someone else from 
any phone, but if someone needs to reach you, they need your number).

A part of your problem, is that you are trying to turn a workstation 
into a server (an Apache server).  So you have to stop it from getting a 
variable IP address, and give it a fixed one.
But, you have to pick an IP address which on the other hand, your DHCP 
server will not give away to someone else.
(Because two stations having the same IP address confuses everyone and 
does not work).
So you need to look in your DHCP server which range of addresses it is 
giving away, and pick one outside that range (just add 1 to the last 
number in the DHCP range).(at the end, not at the beginning).
(If your DHCP server is also your router, it may have a web interface to 
make it easy.  If it is not the router but some server, then this may be 
more complicated).
Now when you have done that, try from another station to access your 
Apache server at the fixed IP address that you gave it.

For example :
- suppose your DHCP server is programmed to give away addresses in the 
range - (51 addresses)
- suppose then that you gave your Apache workstation the fixed address (to be well outside of the above range).
- then try "" (from another internal station)

If you get a response from Apache, then we are already well on the way.

Next, we want all the internal stations to be able to access this Apache 
server, not by IP address, but with a name.  That is easier for humans.
Read Chapter I above, again, to remember how they do that.

Unfortunately, there probably isn't a DNS server on your local network, 
that could be used by the internal stations.
Thus you will have to use the "hosts file" method.
On one of the workstations, locate the hosts file, and add the following 
line in it :
then close all browser windows on that workstation, re-start the 
browser, and type "".
If everything worked according to plan, you should get the same Apache 
page as before.
Now do the same on all the other workstations, et voila you have an 
internal webserver. (You might want to find a nicer name than 
"", like "www.apache.local" e.g.).

In the next installment, we'll look at the external access to your 

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