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[guide] Classic Mac Web Hosting And You!


Well-known member
So, you want to host a website on your circa 1989 Macintosh?

I hope you're ready for :O , because making a 30 year old chunk of hardware work reliably with modern networks is a huge pita. :p

What you'll need:

  • A fast mac, this basically restricts you to a SE with a accelerator or a SE/30 (preferably with a accelerator)
  • A fast hard drive, to be able to actually read without having a long drive spinup time
  • A Ethernet card :p . There are other methods of connecting a mac to the internet, but I'd recommend the easiest method
  • Software, namely MacHTTP (discussed below)
  • A̶̶̶ ̶̶̶p̶̶̶l̶̶̶u̶̶̶s̶̶̶h̶̶̶ ̶̶̶s̶̶̶t̶̶̶e̶̶̶v̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶j̶̶̶o̶̶̶b̶̶̶s̶̶̶ ̶̶̶d̶̶̶o̶̶̶l̶̶̶l̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶o̶̶̶ ̶̶̶p̶̶̶u̶̶̶n̶̶̶c̶̶̶h̶̶̶ ̶̶̶e̶̶̶v̶̶̶e̶̶̶r̶̶̶y̶̶̶t̶̶̶i̶̶̶m̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶y̶̶̶o̶̶̶u̶̶̶ ̶̶̶g̶̶̶e̶̶̶t̶̶̶ ̶̶̶a̶̶̶ ̶̶̶b̶̶̶u̶̶̶s̶̶̶ ̶̶̶e̶̶̶r̶̶̶r̶̶̶o̶̶̶r̶̶̶ ̶̶̶a̶̶̶n̶̶̶d̶̶̶ ̶̶̶c̶̶̶r̶̶̶a̶̶̶s̶̶̶h̶̶̶
I'd also highly recommend reading: http://www.applefool.com/se30/

It's very useful on getting your connection setup.

Common problems to work around

Dynamic IP on home server:

This is 2 problems really, your Mac having a dynamic IP on your home network, and your home router having a dynamic IP on the internet.

Go into your router settings, and find the IP that's assigned to your Mac, and set it to static. This means that through resets, and DHCP refreshes,

your Mac will have the same IP on your home network.

On the other hand, unless you're paying your ISP, you most likely have a dynamic IP at home also, so if your router ever goes offline, you could get a random new IP

Have a look at http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-best-dynamic-dns-providers-can-lookup-free-today/ to find a good dynamic DNS service to set up, makes life a lot easier.

Actually hosting a website :^)

Ok. Now that you've presumably spent $300 on getting your Mac setup and a few dozen hours connecting it to the internet, we're ready for step 2, actually hosting a website~

  1. Download http://www.machttp.org/downloads/machttp/MacHTTP261.sit.hqx and unpack it to your Mac.
  2. Put the files for your site in the same folder as the machttp executable
  3. Configure machttp as per tips below
  4. Run machttp and see if it works
  5. Keep trying to fix machttp every time it breaks

Machttp configuration stuff/tips

This is just some notes I have on making it work reliably. If I don't mention anything here, its better left as default:

  • DUMP_BUF_SIZE = the max size of a http packet that gets sent. It says 256-10240, but 256 is the only value that wont saturate the cpu loading a page over 1kb in size
  • NO_DNS = Uncomment this, unless you want to have your Mac spend 20 secs a connection trying to figure out DNS traceroutes
  • USE_THREADS = 100% want this to be enabled. Can use right away on system 7.5, 7.0->7.1.3 use the extension @ http://www.pure-mac.com/appud.html#threadman instead
  • No, you can't put CSS in a separate file, it's too slow, and fails to load 90% of the time :-/
  • Speaking of files, don't try and be cheeky and compress your page by removing endlines, because those are used by machttp to segment your transmitted packets, and you'll end up transmitting a 5kb packet and G̶E̶T̶ ̶A̶ ̶B̶U̶S̶ ̶E̶R̶R̶O̶R̶ ̶A̶H̶H̶H̶

Hopefully this information is useful to someone. Happy hosting!

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Well-known member
Thanks for the tutorial! May come in handy if I ever obtain a SE/30... I only have a SE right now.



Well-known member
Both "PISM (Providing Internet Service via the Mac OS)" and "How to make a Mac Web Server Without Really Trying" explains all the details. Great books, if you can find them.

They work with anything from System 6 and a Mac Plus to a PowerPC G3/G4 on OS 8/9.

The issue with the older 68K Macs is the Hard Drive I/O Bandwidth of 5MB/Sec (Excellent speed back in 1986!) is a bit slow for heavy traffic. IF one can, make a RAM Disk and run web files from the RAM Disk. Secondly, a Solid State Drive like SCSI2SD or SCSI2CF would be a major improvement but slower than the RAM Disk.


Anonymous Freak

Well-known member
Decided to throw an http server on my SE/30 to go with the local-only AppleTalk server.  Works fine internally, but my stupid router doesn't seem to obey the port forwarding entry...  I'm using Comcast's Arris modem/phone adapter as my router, and it claimed to enter it correctly the first time, but it doesn't show up now, and when I try to re-enter it, it says "check your inputs".  AARGH!