Basic Home Page Creation on the CS Department User Web Server

  1. Create a directory called "public_html" within your Computer Science Home Directory. This directory should be executable by all users (ie. if you examine the file using "ls -l", or its common alias "ll", the permissions should appear as "rwx--x--x").

    To set the permissions, use the chmod command. For example, to change the permissions as described above, type the following:

    prompt[ ]> cd
    prompt[ ]> chmod 711 public_html
    You should also make sure that your Home Directory is accessible by the world. To do this type the following:
    prompt[ ]> chmod 711 ~/
Creating Your Personal
Home Page
Basic Home Page Creation on the CS Department User Web Server
Departmental Web Servers
Server-Side Includes (SSI)
Common Gateway Interface (CGI)
Testing Executable Web Content
Using PHP | A PHP Example
Things you can do with ".htaccess" Files
Sending E-Mail From a Web Page

    Note that you can also make these directories world-readable by substituting chmod 755, but this is not recommended. Making your Home Directory world-readable allows anyone to browse the file names in your directory with an "ls" command.

  1. Create a file called "index.html" within the directory "public_html". Its permissions should be set so that it is at least readable by everyone (ie. you might set the permissions to "rw-r--r--"). To set the permission, use the following:
    prompt[ ]> cd ~/public_html
    prompt[ ]> chmod 644 index.html
    This file is your Home Page. This file can contain any currently supported HTML Tags. It may be the actual content of your Home Page, or the definition of an HTML FRAMESET. It could also be a jump page that redirects you to another page.

  2. This page is accessed by the URL:
    Where username is the User ID that you use to Login. Note also, the trailing '/' on this URL.
    Other URL's are possible but this is the best method of reference.

    i.e. This material could also be accessed by using the URL of the Production Server, However, delivery of this material will be redirected to the User Web Server, and the requesting web browser will be notified of the redirection.

    The material is also accessible via the actual machine name, URL: However, the machine name that provides the User Web Server is subject to change, whereas www2 will always be a correct alias for this server. Besides, having the www2 in there sounds so much more professional ;-)

  3. Note that your Home Page must be called "index.html". This name is case sensitive. No substitutions are permitted. Other web content pages in your Home Directory can use a ".htm" extension or Mixed Case file names, but not your Home Page.

  4. Place any other web pages or images in your "public_hmtl" directory. You can reference these documents from within your HTML documents just by using their file names. For example: AboutMe.htm, MyPicture.jpg, or Artwork.GIF.

  5. Any files you require should also be readable by the world at large, so you will want to set the permissions as for the index.html file.

  6. You can also create a sub-directory under your "public_html" directory, and place web content in the sub-directory. You can reference this content from within your HTML documents as "/~username/Sub-Directory/File.Name". If you wish to access this material via just the sub-directory name, then the sub-directory must contain a file called "index.html". With an "index.hmtl" file you can reference the content of the sub-directory as "/~username/Sub-Directory/". Again, notice the trailing '/' on this URL.

  7. You can also create a sub-directory and have the web server display the contents of the directory. The format of this display is like a fancy "ls -l" command. Symbolic links are disguised and shown as an actual file or directory name. If a file called "README" is present, its contents are displayed as part of the directory listing. Some file names that have special significance are suppressed.

    To allow a sub-directory to create this type of index listing, you must have a file called ".htaccess" present in the directory. This file must contain the phrase "Options Indexes". The file must be world-readable (mode 644), but will not be displayed as part of the index listing.

    Additional information about things that can be done with ".htaccess" files is available at this link.

  8. You can use any editing tool(s) that you like to maintain your web pages. However, be aware of the following cautions if you are using PC based tools.

    • PC file names are NOT case sensitive, whereas UNIX file names are. Make sure that you reference your pages using the exact case structure that the files were created with. Otherwise your page(s) may appear to work on a PC but not work at all on our Web Servers.

    • PC file names can contain spaces and other special characters. While these can appear in UNIX file names, special handling is required in order to incorporate them in web links. If you don't understand how to do this, avoid special characters.

    • You can use MS FrontPage® to maintain your web content, but we do not support FrontPage Extensions on our servers. Make sure you don't try to use the extensions that FrontPage supports.

    • If you use MS/Office® to create a web page from a Word document, there will be additional files to upload to our server. Office creates a sub-directory, whose name is based upon the name of your document. That sub-directory contains files that are referenced by the web page. The sub-directory name is created by dropping the ".htm" suffix from your web page name, and appending the text "_files". Images contained in your document will be stored this directory, as well as some metadata files that are only needed by Word. Unfortunately, the web page references these files as if they were Cascading Style Sheets. They contain nothing useful to a web browser, but must be requested from the web server anyway, since the browser has no way to know that it doesn't really need them. If you don't upload the generated sub-directory, you place a lot of unnecessary load on our servers, since they must deliver a large error page with a lot of images, instead of a very small file.

      For example, if you start with a document called "ThingsToDoOnCampus.doc", Office will create an html file called "ThingsToDoOnCampus.htm" and a sub-directory called "ThingsToDoOnCampus_files". That subdirectory will contain files called "filelist.xml" and "editdata.mso". Depending on the content of your original document file, it may also contain a file called "oledata.mso". None of these files are necessary to view the web page, but they will be requested by a web browser as it thinks they are necessary style sheets.

      Make sure that you upload this sub-directory, and all of its contents, any time that you upload your web page.

      Also see the note below about "HTMLtidy".

    • Once again, our servers are UNIX based. You cannot have ".asp" pages and you cannot use Visual Basic Scripting®. (Actually, you can name a file with a .asp extension, but it will be treated as a plain text file.)

  9. There is a utility called "HTMLtidy" that will reformat and correct a significant number of problems with your HTML. It is especially good at cleaning up the kludge that is produced by the conversion of a Microsoft Word® document to HTML. It can optionally turn formatting tags into Cascading Style Sheets which can improve the maintainability of your HTML. It will also offer advice about changes that you should make to your HTML to improve its accessibility for readers who have challenges with graphical content. For more information, see "man HTMLtidy".


Graduate and Undergraduate Home Pages are automatically added to the Student Email and Homepages links every night. These links are available from the People web page. If your new Home Page does not show up by the next day, then the most likely cause is a problem with the permissions on one of your directories or on your "index.html" file. See points 1 and 2 above.

The Department Directory entries for Faculty and Staff are updated manually. To have your Home Page listed, send e-mail to

All web pages are included in the Search Computer Science database. This database is updated daily.

For more information on the HTML formatting language, click here.

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