University Web Servers, Hostnames and Re-Direct Rules

In today’s post, I will review host name resolutions and redirect rules of the web server’s of three universities in Papua New Guinea namely: Divine Word University (DWU), University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and University of Technology Papua New Guinea (Unitech). For definitions of terms used throughout this post, please refer to the end of the article.

A properly configured host name resolution and redirect rule will result in you typing anything you want and you will still be redirected to where ever it is you’re trying to go. The Divine Word University’s web server meets this criteria. I say this because, regardless of you typing “http://www.dwu.ac.pg”, “http://dwu.ac.pg”, “www.dwu.ac.pg” or “dwu.ac.pg” you will be directed straight to “http://www.dwu.ac.pg”. This qualifies as a properly configured and implemented host name resolution and web server redirect rule.

An ill configured host name resolution and redirect rule will rely solely on the memory of the client’s webย browser to get to where the client is intending to go. If the user on the client browser has never accessed the website before or cleared the browsing history, then the user will most likely end up with a page that gives an error. The University of Technology Papua New Guinea fits the bill here. If you type “http://unitech.ac.pg” or “unitech.ac.pg” you will get an error on you request. The problem here is not with the internet connection of that the server is offline, its simply because the host name resolution and redirect rules haven’t been configured properly for this domain/url. To get the web content, you will have to manually redirect your request to “http://www.unitech.ac.pg” or you will have to type in “www.upng.ac.pg”

If you think that’s the end of it, you’re wrong. The University of Papua New Guinea’s website falls somewhat in between the properly configured and ill configured. Not that the host name and redirect rules are configured without care but its just how the website administration/ICT/Project Manager wants it to be. When the browser requests for “http://www.upng.ac.pg” or “http://upng.ac.pg” the pageย will still end up loading the same content. The only exception is that it will be delivered on separate host names; one with the ‘www.’ prefix and the other is without the prefix.

Solution

Solutions for these problems depend on the Server OS. Whether the server is linux based, windows based, apache based, etc. all have a common feature: A server configuration file. you can simply hack into this file and add changes where necessary to get the outcome you desire. The server specifics cannot be covered here but they can be found on the server docs.

Do check out the definitions below. If you need help in explaining anything or just chatting, be sure to contact me: 72221730 | sylver.yagi@gmail.com or simply go to my contact page. I will get back to you as soon as time permits.

Definitions

  • web server – a type of server that accepts and responds to request for web documents to a particular domain and/or sub-domains by clients. These clients can be computers, tablets, laptops or any form of device that makes requests to the web server.
  • hostname – the name of the server being called. All servers are given IP Addresses when connected to a network. These IP Addresses come in the form [xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx], by which an ‘x’ represents a positive integer. Since human beings cannot remember numbers very well, host names are then assigned to these IP Addresses.
  • re-direct rule – a rule which, as the name suggests, does a re-direct. It re-directs a client’s request to a proper hostname. Take for example “http://upng.ac.pg” and “http://www.upng.ac.pg”. Each of these url’s can refer to two completely separate web servers and you’ll have to type in the correct url to get to where you need to go if there are no re-direct rules defined.

Resources

The feature image of this post is a screenshot take on the day this article was written. It was take from the website:ย http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/misc/rewriteguide.html. It might have changed. Please be sure to check it out to see the updated version.

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