There are lots of free web server packages available. I recommend WAMP (http://www. wampserver.com/en/) for Windows and MAMP (http://www.mamp.info/) for Mac users. Both of these packages provide Apache, MySQL, and PHP—the AMP part of the acronyms WAMP and MAMP. The W stands for Windows and M for Mac. If you're on Linux, then there should be a LAMP package available for your distribution. One option is XAMPP (the final P stands for Perl), which you should be able to install through your distribution's package manager. XAMPP is also available for other platforms. This book assumes you are using Windows, so the following instructions are for the WAMP package:
1. Download the appropriate server package for your operating system.
2. Run the installer. In most cases accepting the default settings is fine.
3. Set your default browser. The installer defaults to Internet Explorer.
4. Click the WAMPServer icon in the system tray and navigate to Apache | Apache Modules. Scroll through the list until you see rewrite module and click it to enable it.
5. Select WAMPServer in the system tray and go to Apache | Service | Test Port 80.
6. A window will appear telling you if anything else is using Port 80. The two most common issues I have seen are existing IIS servers and Skype. Close any applications that the server warns you about.
7. Activate the server using the WAMPServer icon in the system tray by clicking Start All Services and then Put Online.
8. Launch your browser and go to http://localhost/. You should see something like the following:
What just happened?
Congratulations! You now have a web server running on your local machine. The server name stands for Windows (or Linux / Mac), Apache (the web server), MySQL (the database server), and PHP (the scripting language that WordPress MU uses). The rewrite module is also known as mod_rewrite. We had to enable this because WordPress MU uses it to create easy-to-read URLs for your users' blogs.
Now, let's get our local web server ready for action.
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