I’ve never bothered to set up a local web server on my home network except as an occasional test. Occasionally I consider setting one up to use as a live preview of my web sites before I upload them, but the idea of configuring, installing, and running lots of GUI-unfriendly software on my Windows machine usually discourages me.
Recently I discovered EasyPHP, which, true to its name, makes this much easier. It’s a single installation file that gets MySQL, PHP, and Apache running under Windows. It took about 30 seconds to install and start the Web server on my Windows XP machine, and it worked the first time I tried it.
Rather than running in a DOS window, EasyPHP runs as a tray icon in Windows, and you can start and stop the services from the right-click menu. Unfortunately for uncultured Americans like myself, it defaults to the French language, so be sure to install the English language files, which provide the correct English localization for everything from the GUI to MySQL and PHP error messages.
Impressive! Now I could have real-time previews of my dynamic sites, at least in theory. I’ll have to do some work before I can really try it—the local server will need copies of my Apache customizations, MySQL databases and privileges, PHP settings… I’ll post a followup if and when I get it working.