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OS X - Ditch Apache for Python

Nov 2015

If you're sick of Apache breaking whenever your Mac updates its operating system, and you're just using it for a simple site, then save yourself the pain and swap it out for the Python SimpleHTTPServer.

After upgrading to El Capitan the Apache server on my MacBook has stopped. Again. This happened back in the day when I upgraded to Mavericks and Yosemite. After a couple of hours of trying to get it going again I decided to cut my losses and use a different webserver. 2 minutes later and my laptop is happily serving webpages again.

First of all, we want to stop Apache and also disable it from firing up when we reboot. Launch a terminal window type the following (without the $):

$ sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist  

This will stop a running instance of Apache, and record that it should not be restarted. It records your preference in /private/var/db/launchd.db/

Now all we have to do is start a webserver using Python. On El Capitan, Python 2.7.9 comes installed as standard. Open up a terminal window and CD into the directory that you want to host, then type the following (again, without the $):

$ python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080

This will host your files on port http://localhost:8080/ (feel free to change the port number though).

Launch the webserver at login

To have the python webserver startup automatically create a file called, with the following contents:

cd ~/Sites/my_awesome_website
python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080

This file will startup the HTTP server. We also need a second file, a Unix executable file, to run at login which will call the script that we've just created (note that both of my files are in a home directory called Scripts). Create a file called ninjaPixel-webserver (note that there is no file extension) with the following contents:


Next set the permissions on the new files by CDing into the Scripts directory and executing:

$ chmod 711
$ chmod 711 webserver-ninjaPixel

Test that this is working by opening a finder window and navigating to the Scripts directory and double clicking on the file to execute it. Visit http://localhost:8080/ in your browser to confirm your website is up and running.

Finally go to Settings > Users & Groups > Login Items and add the webserver-ninjaPixel file to the list of login items. And there we have it, you'll have a webserver on startup.

login settings
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