Hiawatha – or my new era of Web-development platform

hiampp logoIn order to redesign/refurbish some small websites, for internal and personal use, and do some testing in webdesign, i have been (again) in search of my ideal “platform”.
My plan is to have a common development environment, useful for maintaining and testing sites which would have to run on different platforms.
My current destination platforms are Windows 2000, Windows ME, Fedora 7, Centos 5.x, while my development system depends on my active partition of the respective computer and might be Windows XP, Windows 2003, Fedora 7/8, Mint/Ubuntu, Pardus, Mepis or some other Linux version. Since i also move among work places i am considering a mobile solution too, like carrying it on a pendrive, which ideally would work just plug and play – the no-install/portable way.

A known, proven and almost perfect platform package i consider the Xampp – environment.
but .. it is VERY big. I might strip it down, since i don’t need thee “old” PHP4 version, the mail and FTP-servers, and maybe not all extensions…

but meanwhile i keep searching for a “standard” solution, which would come close to my requirements.

There are some other packages too like:
Uniform server (might be TOO much stripped down),
CDsite which looks great, but haven’t tried it much yet. Interesting clean concept of “switching” the configuration files, when used to run from a CD. But still too big for me..
WLMP – which contains lighttpd, however the package seems to be documentated in hungarian :(.
AppServ which looks cool, too (but seems to need installation)

I had taken Wamp out of my consideration since it never supported win9x

When thinking of converting Xampp into a LIGHT version – i started checking alternative web servers – see also Wikipedia.
Of course Lighttpd or Windows version is the first (known to me) next choice to me, but i went on search for others and found some like:
Cherokee (is VERY small, but needs installation and never never worked on Win9x for me)
Xitami, Abyss and KF-Webserver seemd “too comercial”, “too closed source” for me, so i took distance, although i know that Xitami works pretty good and is very comfortable to configure.

There are also some Hyper-Mini servers, which at first glance seem to be incomplete, but i might have a look again at
shttpd (windows only)
NullHttpd (not updated for long)
Nanoweb – runs directly using PHP, and seems even pretty complete, i will have a good look at this again

There are also other alternatives relying on Java or Python, but i didn’t want any additional dependencies (thinking of “portable” environment).

After reading a description of a cool Mini Linux distribution called Austrumi (based on Slackware) i found a mention of the Hiawatha Webserver.

When entering its homepage it looked like a component for the solution i am looking for.
It is very small (compared to apache), very compatible to apache, and to use it in windows you just have to unpack the zip file, edit something in the config file and execute the startup batch file. To stop the server again you just kill the DOS-box – just like in Apache. The server is designed for security in mind, the windows version is using some Cygwin libraries.

I added the latest PHP (5.2.5), grabbed the Mysql directory from one of the Xampp packages i had at hand, and now i have a complete working web-environment.

Now I am searching for possible tuning of the mysql directory, which is now the biggest part. I think i will have a look again at CDsite and its configuration concept too. However i don’t want to switch the database for another one, since most ready-made websites are based on mysql.

I have been doing test-runs of the Hiawatha Server 6.1 up to 6.4(beta) on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 2003, and the server and plugged-in PHP 5.2.5 is responding fine on all of these platforms. I had some problem with Hiawatha 6.3 (in XP and windows 2003), i cannot shut it down “clean”, but the next version is on its way.
So for now i am using in my environment Hiawatha 6.2.
In my configuration y created a “hiamp”-tree containing hiawatha, php and mysql, while the “wwwroot”-tree is outside of this and contains some web-administration tools, including phpmyadmin among others, and some subdirs for my “testing” branch of several websites and code-fragments.

Some numbers:

  • The entire Hiawatha directory is occupying 3.2 MB.
  • Adding php 5.2.5, mysql 5.0.45 it totals to 82 MB (instead of 200 MB of Xampp !! although i know it is not fair to put the number this simple. Xampp really comes with a lot more stuff.)

Considerations for investigation:

  • I am not sure if it is slower, faster or same as apache, it is ok for me, but it would be interesting to see some speed comparism. Maybe even the php-VERSION does impact on the server speed.
  • What i am missing, but only because it would me more beautiful, is start and stop with some nicer tool. I would wish a tool-bar icon with a quick status indicator and a quick start/stop access. Or at least a tuned Xampp-control panel. Maybe there is also some mini-perl solution like in UniformServer. Ok, but as i said, this would be nicer only, it works already as it is, and it would be ONLY applicable to the windows version.
  • I still have made no testing about its functioning off a burned CD.

~ por clickdimension en 6 febrero 2008.

3 comentarios to “Hiawatha – or my new era of Web-development platform”

  1. a small addon comment:

    If You want so see some ready-made (existing) CMS, CRM etc systems in action, you could try one of the magnific live CDs (Debian) of http://www.vafeo.org/

  2. Nice review. I’m looking to build a home web server and Haiawatha seems the perfect choice here, however I would like to know if you are still using it and what are your opinion now that just passed three years from this post 🙂

  3. @msx,
    Sorry for answering sooo late. But i will try now:
    Lately i have been working in changing environments, in linux and windows.
    Because of installation simplicity and later support by other administrators, i gave preference to lighttpd for server installations (mainly ubuntu LTS), while in my development environment i keep “alive” also hiawatha, but am observing that nginx has some very interesting points too !!


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