Installing Apache on Vista

This really sucked. No one gives the complete information anywhere, so I thought I would explain step by step what I went through to install Apache 2.2 on Centrino Duo Laptop running Windows Vista Business. Just a testing server, to try sites before I upload them live. This task went pretty simply on Windows XP Home.

I started out by downloading Apache. I figured what the heck, run the installation program. After all, that’s what I wanted to do, install Apache and most installation applications work. Its the answer I was looking for, but not quite the answer I got.

The program opened the command prompt window, which is normal. Then it started showing error after error. Of course, with the command prompt window, I could’t copy what the errors were, just try to remember the general gist of what was going on.

With this minimum knowledge of the issue at hand and hoping that others had attempted this same impossible feat, vanquished it, and lived to tell about their tales, I set out to the wilderness of Google, where snake oil salesmen still reign supreme every few links or so.

But searching for “installing apache on vista” brings up mainly forums, which is a good indication of knowledge to be had with minimum ads. My attitude with forums is read as much about the problem as you can at different forums, scope out the stupid posts, and try everything possible up to sacrificing a goat.

And here is what I came up with, with a few added twists that I discovered myself. At least I think I did. It is very hard to stand behind claims like these in a digital age.

  1. First, if you are at the point where you have already installed Apache on your Vista machine, are searching on Google and found this post, I accomplished my goal. No, to be serious, you need to uninstall Apache. In Classic View, look for Programs and Features. In Control Panel Home, look for Programs. Find Apache there, click on it and choose uninstall. We will revisit the whole Control Panel/Classic View discrepancy later when it gets even more interesting.
  2. You must be in Classic View in the Control Panel to do the following. For the life of me, I couldn't find a way to do it form the default view. Scroll down to User Accounts and double click it. The very bottom link on the page should say "Turn User Account Control On or Off". Click this link. With the window that pops up, uncheck the box that says "Use User Account Control to protect your computer". Choose OK, and your done.
  3. Restart your computer. I hate this part. Processors get faster and faster, but this doesn't seem to affect the load time of operating systems. With each faster system, it seems to take even longer to reboot.
  4. When you finally get your computer back up, Vista will show the default, scary, Swiss army knife insignia looking message telling you that your computer is at risk. Don't let this worry your little head. When we are done, you can set this back.
  5. Install Apache again. The Monitor Apache Services software won't work, but don't worry. The only error you should see is the ironic box that is titled "Error" and the message says "The operation completely successfully." The stop, start, and restart links will work and that's all that matters.
  6. Now this is the important part. Edit your httpd.conf file now, before you activate User Account Control again. I am not even sure what UAC does. It may be useless but it sure stopped me from changing the settings for Apache server. I tried to do it after I activated it again, and waited for the whole ceremony of rebooting. The damn thing would not let me save the file. I searched to find out why and didn't find much, so I decided to turn this whole UAC thing off again. After all, I rather enjoy spending Saturday watching my computer reboot 50 times. It finally worked. I save the settings.
  7. But then PHP didn't install correctly, but that will have to be a topic of another post, because I have yet to find a way to fix it. I seem to remember having issues installing PHP before. After a few hours searching, the answer will be so simple, if only I had typed in the right question the first time. Until then, I have a server that only serves HTML pages.
  8. But MySql installed without a hitch. I just backup my whole data folder for my local database instead of doing imports and exports and when I have to move a database server, I just copy the backup data folder over the one in the new installation and it works quickly and easily.

I have a feeling that I will be running into more issues like this with Vista, so stay tuned to my new Vista category. Yeah, I know, that’s a little stupid to say, since I post like I’m bipolar. Write 20 posts in a week, then forget about this place for three months. But problems like this that took me a few hours looking are worth writing about.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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