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Embedded Systems

Building Your Own Web Server

Webster2 and Me

Besides the energy conservation issue, Webster can be put on the Internet without concern for viruses and spyware. Webster's software is written entirely in C++ with no underlying operating system with exploitable security flaws. Since, by design, there isn't any write access to the underlying filesystem, it is unlikely the website content can be compromised. Finally, since Webster supports basic authentication, access to the website can be controlled with a username and password. Of course like any web server, Webster2 could be brought to its knees by a denial-of-service attack.

Building and maintaining a website with Webster2 is easy. I compose web pages on my PC using the free nvu HTML editor (www.nvu.com). When finished, the HTML pages can be copied to an SD memory card that is subsequently moved to the server, or the pages can be FTPed to an SD memory card already in place on the server. When Webster2's Reset button is pressed, the new or modified website becomes immediately operational.

At the most basic level, any web server is just a device that understands and implements HTTP protocol; a web server doesn't influence website content. A web server's job is to stream requested content to a user's browser, whether that be HTML files, image files, PDF files, MP3s, or whatever. This is important because it is the content of the served up files that may or may not be compatible with different browsers. If the website you serve with Webster2 works with Internet Explorer but not Firefox, it probably isn't Webster2's fault.

The NetBurner Development Kit

The folks at NetBurner have put together a great development kit for their MOD5270 module. The kit includes everything you need to develop and test code including a:

  • Network-ready MOD5270 core computer module.
  • MOD-DEV-70 development board, which the MOD5270 plugs into containing a switching power supply, an SD memory-card socket, a real-time clock chip, two RS-232 ports, eight programmable LEDs, an 8-position dip-switch, and a Reset button.
  • Wall wort transformer for powering the development board.
  • Cables including an RS-232 cable and multiple Ethernet cables.
  • Eclipse-based C/C++ development environment for writing, compiling, and debugging code running on their platforms. Included are numerous example applications that you can extract code from to get your designs up and running quickly.

NetBurner's slogan is "Networking in 1 Day!" and it is absolutely true. They provide code for support of most Internet protocols, making application development almost trivial. In addition, they provide excellent customer support and have a public forum of dedicated developers that can and do help with problems.

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