Chapter 13 of this book put you on a network. It may have been hard work, but the result was quite an accomplishment: your system is now part of a community. If you are connected to the Internet, the next step is to get access to all the riches this medium offers.
On local area networks both for self-contained organizations and the wider Internet, people generally agree that one of the most useful applications is the World Wide Web. We covered browsers in Chapters 3 and 5. One of the exciting things about Linux is that it facilitates setting up your own web server, the topic of this chapter.
The benefits of having a web server on your system are extensive. Not only can you put up documents and serve up information from databases in a manner that people on any system connected to you can view, but you can also run a range of other tools (for system administration, for instance) that allow remote administration of your system.
With any server, however, you must pay close attention to security, because small errors in configuration can let malicious crackers gain access to documents you don't want, deface web pages, or destroy data. Ponder Chapter 26 before allowing other systems access to your web server.