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How a Web server actually works ~ with C source code

Do you wonder how to write a program that accepts incoming messages with a network socket? Have you ever just wanted your own Web server to experiment and learn with?

Have you ever wondered how a Web server actually works? Experiment with nweb — a simple Web server with only 200 lines of C source code. In this article, Nigel Griffiths provides a copy of this Web server and includes the source code as well. You can see exactly what it can and can’t do.

Well, look no further — nweb is what you need. This is a simple Web server that has only 200 lines of C source code. It runs as a regular user and can’t run any server-side scripts or programs, so it can’t open up any special privileges or security holes.

This article covers:

  • What the nweb server program offers
  • Summary of C functions features in the program
  • Pseudo code to aid understanding of the flow of the code
  • Network socket system calls used and other system calls
  • How the client side operates
  • C source code

nweb only transmits the following types of files to the browser :

  • Static Web pages with extensions .html or .htm
  • Graphical images such as .gif, .png, .jgp, or .jpeg
  • Compressed binary files and archives such as .zip, .gz, and .tar
  • If your favorite static file type is not in this list, you can simply add it in the source code and recompile to allow it.

Read more at IBM developerworks

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{ 28 comments… add one }
  • nils September 16, 2008, 5:16 pm

    thanks for the tip!
    it helped much

  • Mahi October 23, 2008, 11:34 am

    i need the C code for HTTP server..Please help me.

  • tao chen March 9, 2009, 5:40 pm

    I am a student learning how to write a web server, please help me with your source code.

    • sonam lhamo December 18, 2013, 9:59 am

      i student and i m doing web designing…
      plez text me simple code

  • HARISH April 21, 2009, 3:57 pm

    iam working a project which will send and receive data from webserver. Your webserver application is suitable for me to develop tmy projet very fast. Can you please forward the source code of the webserver using HTTP to my mail id as follows: galiharish@yahoo.com

  • Ron May 4, 2009, 3:00 am

    want advanced code in C web server
    thanks a lot..

  • sanjee June 17, 2009, 3:23 am

    how to Write a simple web server in C. This web server only has to respond to GET requests. A web server that serves the same content irrespective of the URL in the GET request is worth 80% of the marks. For further 20% of the marks your server must serve contents based on the file names in the URLs in GET requests.please help me with your source code.

  • Santosh July 29, 2009, 4:43 am

    I want to know how to build program for web-server in c
    so that client send req for file to server and server gie rpl accordingly

  • ramesh September 30, 2009, 10:51 am

    could plz help me to geta web server code in cpp

  • Mahendran May 2, 2010, 6:34 am


    I am planning to do a project in web server. I want a reference source code..Can you send to my mail id : mahenece@gmail.com


  • Oyundari May 17, 2010, 9:30 am

    plz help me i’m student. i need simple web server using socket source code. how to write mod_php5 source code. my e-mail oyundari_0502@yahoo.com

  • arshad naveed August 20, 2010, 6:26 am

    I am new to network programming. Please send me the source code of your program.

  • abc August 27, 2010, 3:35 pm

    heya! i have just started with network programming. if u can plzz help me by sending ur source code.

  • Kover September 1, 2010, 1:04 am

    i am currently struggling with programming a webserver, would you please to send me the source code, thanks a lot

  • icem December 11, 2010, 1:42 am

    Hiya im trying to program an embedded web sever, but im finding the coding hard, can u please send me the source code

  • Raj December 23, 2010, 6:29 am

    i am getting problems while programming http server. Can you send me your source code. It will be really a great help.
    Thans alot.

  • zazinyo April 22, 2011, 10:43 pm

    hı cloud you send your source code please thanks for you attention

  • iC0d3R July 4, 2011, 9:20 pm

    thanks for helping,really thanks
    can you send for me the C source code?
    i need it…thanks a lot…

    • abid khan afridi July 8, 2011, 6:03 pm

      you have a source code ????

  • harita August 17, 2011, 5:25 am

    pls help me in developing a web server and tracking the links tracked by an online user . i mean generation of on fly log file

  • Eldor September 9, 2011, 9:03 am

    How can we get the source code?
    Thank you

  • Nandhini January 18, 2012, 4:35 am

    i want c codings for web server load balancing…can u send me such coding to my mail?

  • Tejasvi February 26, 2012, 6:27 pm

    i’m doing my final year project on the topic web server.. can u plz help me by providing source code??


    • abid khan afridi February 29, 2012, 3:16 pm

      yes tejasvi i can give u source code what is ur email adress

  • Tejasvi March 2, 2012, 7:21 am

    Thanks for ur reply..
    dis is my email id: cuteteju05@gmail.com
    and thanks alot..

  • JoJeJa April 17, 2012, 11:47 am

    Can you please send me the source code in C for HTTP web server?

  • sheetal May 11, 2012, 5:27 pm

    hey can any1 plz tel how to run tis web server

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