Archive for October, 2016

Building a Website ON an iPhone

There’s a lot of information out there about building websites for mobile, but have you ever considered that it’s completely possible to set up a website from a mobile device? I did just that today. 

A few days ago, I received an email notifying me that an old domain of mine was set to expire. I haven’t had it hosted in years, but didn’t want to let go of the domain. I was tossing around the idea of setting up an old desktop as a server, but I’d like to eventually migrate this blog to the domain and an old desktop on a commercial ISP probably wouldn’t handle the traffic very well. A friend of mine recommend a VPS (virtual private server) instead. It sounded like a great way to get to know some different stacks and I planned to set things up a few weekends from now. 

Over coffee this morning, I logged in to renew my domain and pick out a hosting company on my phone. Before I finished my first cup I had not only accomplished that, but already had an SSH session to my shiny new instance up and running in my mobile’s chrome browser. It was a bit awkward, so I did a quick search on the App Store and found the Reflection SSH client app. Much better. This app was nearly as good sitting at my desk typing in a Putty terminal. Within a few minutes, I had a new user setup. 

I went for a second cup of coffee and thought, “How far can I push this? Can I set up a webserver from my phone?” A quick search led me to this great tutorial about setting up a webserver on Linux. I followed along through some basic server  setup and everything went smoothly right up until I tried to actually install the Lighttpd (“lighty”) webserver. Lighttpd isn’t listed in the CentOS repositories, so I needed to manually download it from a mirror. Typing in that URL was not fun, but all in all, not hard. It was just awkward typing it on this tiny touch screen. It’s odd, I can easily type entire blogs on it, but a URL is beastly to type out on an iPhone. 

A few more google searches and I had the firewall set up correctly and could access the Lighttpd sample site from my phone’s browser. 

Back over to my domain name provider to point my domain to the VPS and my domain name was now routing to my website. 

In about 2 hours, I had a webserver running using nothing but my iPhone. That’s pretty damned cool if you ask me. When I was my daughter’s age, it would have taken that long just to download and install the SSH client!

I just couldn’t resist pushing this absurdity to the extreme at this point. I went back to the App Store and found an SFTP app and an HTML editor. 30 minutes later I had the simplest website that could possibly work. 

It’s not pretty, or fancy, but it’s online and I never touched my laptop. I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing this from your phone if you need to be productive and I won’t be maintaining the site this way, but I find it terribly fascinating that it’s possible. 


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