How do I create a web site on the FAS servers?

FAQ Categories: Web pages

All personal and departmental accounts are eligible to create a web site hosted from their account. Once you’ve created your web pages, your Web site will be accessible at "http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~username" (for personal Web sites) or "http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~username" (for departmental Web sites.)

Your username and password are the same as your email username and password.

Adobe Dreamweaver is a useful program for designing and creating websites. There are also other software programs available on the site to directly transfer files from your computer to your website directory such as SecureFTP and SecureFX (windows only).

Once you have your software that has secure FTP capabilities (sftp or ssh protocols), you need to enter the FTP or Remote Host information. This is the information that tells your programs where to put the files once your done designing and want to make your pages live. The ftp or connection information for FAS accounts is:

  • Hostname: fas.harvard.edu (do not type in “www”)
  • Username: your fas email username or the departmental account name
  • Password: same password as for your email or the dept. account

Make sure you select the option (usually a checkbox) for secure ftp (may say sftp or ssh), as our servers require a secure connection. If your software is not capable of direct secure connections you will need to be operating VPN.

All Web site files need to be stored in a public_html subdirectory within your home directory. You will need to create that folder in your account at the top level. Simply create a folder/directory named “public_html”. This will be the top level or home directory for your website. Any files placed in that directory will be potentially viewable from the web as long as their *permissions are set correctly.

In order for your web site to be viewed properly, you must have a file named (case-sensitive) index.html, index.htm, or index.cgi in that top public_html folder. This will be your home page. You can name your other web pages anything you want, but the default location for your site will be the index page.

By default our servers support HTML as well as CGI files anywhere in the public_html directory (no need for separate cgi bins). We also support PHP files in cgi-mode.

*File Permissions: In order for a file to be viewable from the web, it needs to have its permissions set correctly. All files on the web have 3 sets of permissions, one for the owner (you), the group (rarely used), and the world (everyone online). The permission settings for each are: read, write, and execute. The settings are written in a short-hand code. Some programs automatically default files to having the proper permissions to be viewable online. Unfortunately, the current version of dreamweaver does not. You will need to go in and “open” the permissions by hand to make your files “world readable”. You can do this with the programs I mentioned about called SecureCRT. If you’re on a mac, you can use the Terminal utility (that comes loaded with OS X) to connect directly to your server and change the permissions. The step-by-step instructions for altering permissions are:

  1. Open SecureCRT or Terminal.
  2. Type ssh username@fas.harvard.edu at the prompt.
  3. Type cd public_html
  4. Now find the file(s) you want to to open. If you want ALL the files at your current directory and in all subdirectories to be world readable, do the following:
    • Type chmod 755 * -R
    • Otherwise, type in each file one at a time:
    • Type chmod 755 filename (include folder names if your file is in a subdirectory, such as about/index.html or images/newpicture.jpg).

Please note: alternatively, instead of setting each file permission, you can do this for all files jointly by running the fixwebfiles command, which changes the home directory, public_html directory, and all files therein to be accessible by the web server.

To do this:

  1. Open SecureCRT or Terminal.
  2. Type ssh username@fas.harvard.edu at the prompt.
  3. Type cd public_html
  4. at the prompt type in fixwebfiles and press enter

You can read more about file permissions at the World Wide Web Consortium’s html information pages.

Last reviewed: 01/12/2012