Greetings everyone! My name is Stephen Carroll and I want to welcome you to my first post on ServerPress.com. Hopefully, you will be hearing a lot more from me as a blogger for all things WordPress related. I’m usually behind the scenes programming, researching and testing code. But I’m looking forward to making this column a valuable resource for you. That being said, please feel free to drop me a note on any topics that you’d like to see me cover in future articles, or to provide comments and feedback on my postings.

For my first post, I’d like to introduce you to DesktopServer. It’s the main tool that I use to develop, test, and play with WordPress. I’ll show you how easy it is to get started. I have even tried my hand with Quicktime on a Mac to put together a “promo” on how to run DesktopServer for the very first time. Windows users are not left out, as I’ve added large, step by step screen shots on Windows 7 (click the thumbnails to enlarge). Hopefully I’ll be able to answer some common questions along the way. So let’s get started!

  1. First, DesktopServer will want to start as an administrator. This is needed to create your ‘virtual servers’ so that your browser can find the non-existent .dev (dot D-E-V) domain for development. When you point to a .dev domain, you are working on your local box.
  2. For security purposes, Windows will ask you to confirm, and Macintosh will ask you for your password. It’s just a matter of clicking ‘Yes’ on Windows7. If the database and web services are not already running, DesktopServer will prompt you to start them.
  3. The caution arrow is to remind you that running a server may expose your computer to other users. This usually isn’t an issue for users at work or home as they are more likely to be behind a router’s firewall. But if you don’t trust your co-workers or are in a public area with potential hackers, like a WiFi hotspot, you may wish to check your settings.
  4. Macintosh typically has it’s firewall off by default, but most Windows boxes have their firewall on. You may get a prompt from your firewall regarding “Apache HTTP Server” and “The MySQL Server”. You can accept the default which is to keep communications private. This is okay as we should be the only one accessing the development site.
  5. The main menu is simple. DesktopServer displays just three basic options: Start or restart the database and web services, remove an existing development site, or create a new development site. We want to create our first WordPress website, so just click ‘next’ to accept the default answer, which is to create a new development website.
  6. When creating your new site, you’ll be prompted for the domain name you would like to use. DesktopServer will automatically append the .dev to your selected domain name. By default, this will also be the name of the folder that houses all your WordPress files. But you can specify a different name and location in the text below or by using the browse button to select a new directory.
  7. Click ‘create’ and DesktopServer will copy all the WordPress files, create a database, configure WordPress to talk to that database, and make the fictitious host name entries so you can access the website by the friendly URL name. Click ‘next’ to continue.
  8. DesktopServer will finish creating your web server and website. You’ll be presented with the URL of your website, and you can visit it for the first time by clicking the hyperlink or ‘next’. That’s about it! DesktopServer will return back to the three option menu so that you can create additional sites or remove the one you just created.
  9. WordPress will want to know the title you’d like to give your site when visiting for the very first time. You’ll also be prompted to create the credentials for your admin user name and password. Enter the information (remember it!) and click ‘Install WordPress’ to finalize your site.
  10. Finally, you can then log in to your site to see WordPress’ admin pages or you can just visit your homepage by typing the domain name in the address bar. You can also visit PhpMyAdmin to access your MySQL server by typing slash ‘phpmyadmin’ after the domain name (i.e. http://www.example.com/phpmyadmin).

Now that your website is created, you are probably wondering where the files are. If you accepted all the defaults, then your isolated website files are in a folder titled “Websites” inside your “Documents” folder. Look for another folder with the same name as your development site’s domain name, i.e. a folder titled “www.example.com”. You might find that the default twentyeleven theme is an excellent starting off point with ‘responsive’ capabilities (it scales for mobile devices). You can test this by simply resizing the window to make it small and watch how the entire site reorganizes to maintain a high level of readability and usability. We like twentyeleven so much that we even use it for ServerPress.com. Try visiting this article on your mobile device and you’ll see how responsive it is. If you want to get started modifying the twentyeleven theme, your best bet is to start off with a child theme. Designers will want to check out Creating a Simple Child Theme Using Twenty Eleven on Wptuts+. More seasoned developers will want to look into theme.fm’s How to: Create a Child Theme Based on Twenty Eleven for some in-depth actions and filters using the WordPress programming API. Either way, DesktopServer can help you get started fast.

DesktopServer Limited is available for free from our downloads page. You can create up to three sites on your local box with the free version. But if you are serious about WordPress development, then join us as a premium member and you can create unlimited websites (or at least as many as your hard drive can fit). DesktopServer is a must have for any designer or developer that wants to test out plugins and themes on isolated servers or for working on multiple projects. Since creating a site only takes seconds, you’ll find it easy for testing out concepts, isolating problems, or for referencing dozens of private sites you keep ‘virtually’ online. You don’t even need to have an Internet connection. At the very least, you’ll want to register with ServerPress.com for free and keep up to date with all things WordPress. Let us know what you think!

Troubleshooting

If you get the XAMPP logo screen, try rebooting and turning DesktopServer back on. It is important to note that DesktopServer is a “virtual server computer” that will be turned off when you shutdown/restart your computer. To turn the “virtual server computer” back on, start DesktopServer once and accept the prompt to “Start Apache and MySQL services”.

For addition troubleshooting tips, please be sure to reference the troubleshooting section in How to Install DesktopServer.

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About Stephen Carnam
I’m a San Diego, California based computer programmer and graphic designer that has been consulting, developing, and maintaining web & software applications for well over ten years. My languages and interests include PHP, Java, JavaScript, 3D rendering/sculpting, and snow boarding.

27 Comments

  1. tdcaron says:

    Dear Steven,

    I have installed DesktopServer, but during the install it was unable to write to the host file. and did not install wordpress as described above. What do I do next? Would you kindly give explicit details. I’m on Windows 7.

    Thanks
    Tim

    1. Steveorevo says:

      Hi Tim,
      You’ll want to check a couple of things, are you using anti-malware or anti-virus that could be interfering such as STOPzilla, or otherwise? We have a specific troubleshooting section for that. You need to turn off “HOSTS file protection”. If not, check your hosts file further:

      Locate your file at c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\ in Explorer, right click the hosts file, click properties, and double check the “Read Only” checkbox.
      Also make sure administrator has read/write access to the file in “Security and Permissions”.
      Lastly, the hosts file is backed up in a file hosts.ds_backup. If you don’t have that, then your etc folder permissions might be to blame as well.

      With a default Windows 7 installation, this should not have been a problem.

      If it persists, the corrected hosts file is mirrored in c:\xampplite\other\hosts, this file needs to be your file at c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file. But I am interested in what could be causing this issue for you. Please let us know if this resolves your issue.

  2. CoachJo says:

    My question is very basic. I downloaded the program. Now what? Do I install it as a WordPress plugin? unzip it to my hard drive? Thanks.

    1. admin says:

      From the download page, please see How To Install ServerPress

  3. dansmonpetitstudio says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I have gone through the installation process and when I try to go on my .dev website, I end up on a page telling me that the admin of this page just installed Apache with success… There’s more text than that, but that’s basically what it’s telling me.

    So I get to the 8th step of your article here, but that’s it.

    Do you know what I can do to go further and finalize my site?

    Thank you for your help.

    Sabine

    1. dansmonpetitstudio says:

      Or maybe should I go to .dev/wp-admin?

    2. Stephen Carroll says:

      Not sure what you are seeing. What platform (Windows or Mac) and what does the text say? You may want to check out our dedicated forum for this: http://serverpress.com/forum/public-discussions/getting-started/desktopserver-limited/

      We’ll be glad to help you out there :)

    3. justgospel says:

      to access your locally installed wordpress website; and begin tweaking; enter your website name and ending with /wp-login.php

      for example

      http://www.yourwebsitename.dev/wp-login.php

      this would take you to the local wordpress login – enter your user name and password used during set up or your live wordpress user name and password if you have imported your live website archive onto your local server.

      many regards

  4. AndyMcL says:

    Hi Stephen,
    I’m new to WordPress and ServerPress, and I have used SP to help build my first proper WordPress site on my desktop Mac. I have been looking for information on how you migrate the .dev site to going live on my hosting site, how do I do that?
    Many thanks
    Andy Mc

  5. poiuy282 says:

    Hi, I just helped my friend setting up her web.dev.

    She created the example.dev, but when she clicked the link or typed it in the browser, it showed “404 not found”.

    It looked quite similar to http://serverpress.com/topic/mysql-connection-failed-on-win-7-home-premium-64-bit/page/2/

    To help her solve the problem, I double-clicked the xampp_start file in the xampplite folder, and everything starts working fine.

    I am not sure whether all users have to do this. But it might be better if you can mention it somewhere.

    1. admin says:

      All users should NOT have to do this. Let us know what her Operating system version is (Windows 7/Vista/XP) in our forums and we’ll be able to correct the problem in the next release -if indeed there is a persistent issue.

      1. poiuy282 says:

        Thanks for your reply!

        Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

      2. kv86 says:

        I just created the example.dev & I too am receiving an 404 page not found error. As stated above I tried running the xampp_start file. But nothing seems to happen. I am running this on a windows 7 machine. Could you help me with this?

        1. Stephen Carroll says:

          Hi Kv86,
          We’d be happy to help you. Please post in our support forum at http://serverpress.com/forums/

          Regards,
          Stephen

  6. Bob Schecter says:

    Just installed it: OMG – Couldn’t be easier.

  7. cptdoom says:

    So I suppose this will conflict with a pre existing Xampp install?

    1. Stephen Carroll says:

      Yes, running another web server or another MySQL server on the same ports are not possible. You should stop other services.

      1. Bob Schecter says:

        Ooops. I have both Xampp running a beta site and ServerPress running a WP beta site, both installed in the C-drive, though the WP app is actually on a portable drive. Am I to expect an imminent crash?

        1. Stephen Carroll says:

          Your sites might not crash, but the data is most likely being confused/corrupted. The question is which app’s MySQL and Apache engines are really running and storing your data (and where). Remember, post and page text goes in the database, not your wp-content folder. Both DesktopServer (which is XAMPP) and another instance of XAMPP cannot run on the same port. A complication may arise if one Apache server stores data in another installation’s database.

          1. Bob Schecter says:

            That does complicate things a bit for me. I need to be able to play with SocialEngine and MyPHPDirectory to be sure I don’t screw up my live sites. I’ve been using XAMPP, but for WP it isn’t nearly as transparent as ServerPress. Hmmm.

        2. Stephen Carroll says:

          Since DesktopServer is based on XAMPP, you can use it for more then just WordPress. Although ServerPress.com is WordPress centric, you can still use DesktopServer’s virtual hosts and domain name schema for your other projects too. Here’s how:

          http://serverpress.com/topic/feature-request-create-virtual-host-for-non-wordpress-site/

  8. Bob Schecter says:

    I’ll delete Xampp quickly before I get the death screen, and I’ll give it a try. Thanks

    1. Stephen Carroll says:

      For more information about the blueprints folder, see: http://serverpress.com/news/getting-started-with-desktopserver/#comments

      You can use it to create pre-defined or custom builds of WordPress, betas, localized language specific versions, etc. Arlen at HawaiiWP.com has a you tube video that shows this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuHUjJJkAEY

      You can also jump start your favorite configurations with the “copy” option too, as that will copy not just your plugins, themes, etc. but your settings as well.

      1. Bob Schecter says:

        You’re killin’ me! Information overload. A few months ago the only local servers I knew worked at the Outback down the block. I have a lot of homework :) .

  9. samjcarroll says:

    Hi. I recently went from Desktop Server Limited to Desktop Server. I’m fairly new to WordPress. I had no issues with DSL, but after I upgraded I get an error when I try to load the .dev URL. “Error establishing a database connection.” I am using OSX 10.7.2 and I created the .dev site with Dreamweaver support turned on. Any assistance you could give would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Stephen Carroll says:

      Hi Sam,
      I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds like part of the server is “turned off”. DesktopServer creates a “server computer” that does not turn back on after you turn off your main computer. Something might be stuck, please reboot and start DesktopServer once, to turn the server back on. If the problem persists, please follow up in the forum at http://serverpress.com/forums