How to start a local web server from any directory

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Sometimes you want to start a web server from any directory in your local file system. It doesn't necessarily mean that you are looking to serve web pages on the Internet, but just a way to load the static files (HTML, JavaScript, styles, etc.) in a browser.

There are multiple ways to start a web server from a local directory. It depends on the programming language you have already configured and used to develop applications.


If you use Node.js and have already installed it along with NPM (literally takes a couple of minutes to install), the http-server module can be a good choice for this purpose.

The http-server is a simple, zero-configuration command-line HTTP server that is powerful enough to be used for testing, local development, and learning.

Run the following command to install the http-server module globally on your machine so that you can run it from any directory via the command line:

$  npm install http-server -g

Once the installation is completed, you can run the http-server command inside any directory to launch a web server. For example, if you want to start a web server from /opt/sites/blog, use the following commands:

# Navigate to the directory
$ cd /opt/sites/blog

# Launch HTTP server
$ http-server

That's it. Now you can visit http://localhost:8080 to access your files.

By default, http-server uses port 8080 to launch the server. However, you can use the -p flag to specify a port of your choice:

# Launch HTTP server on port 4000
$ http-server -p 4000


If you use Python and have it installed already, you can use the SimpleHTTPServer module to start a web server from any local directory.

Just navigate to the folder from where you want to serve static files, and then execute the following command in your terminal:

# Navigate to the directory
$ cd /opt/sites/blog

# Launch HTTP server
$ python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080

The above command will start a web server on port 8080. If you're using Python 3.x or higher, you'd use:

$ python -m http.server 8080


If you are already using a modern PHP version (5.4.x and higher), you can use the following commands to launch a development server from any directory of your choice:

# Navigate to the directory
$ cd /opt/sites/blog

# Launch HTTP server
$ php -S localhost:8080

The above example will start a web server on port 8080.

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