Hacking Thy Fearful Symmetry

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The Guerilla Hack Chronicles: Dancer as a Ad-Hoc Web Server

March 13, 2011, last update: March 16, 2011
perl dancer guerilla hack chronicles python plack plack::app::directory

edit (March 14th, 2011): even better suggestions from the comments have been added at the end of the entry.

Let's say you want to serve static http content from a machine. The sensible thing to do would be to install Apache/Nginx/Lighttp.

But let's say -- because of insane configuration, red tapes, cruel whims of the gods -- that you can't do the sensible thing.

Fortunately, there's a few aces you can pull off your sleeve.

One of them is to use Dancer as a spur-of-the-moment bare bone web server:

$ dancer -a proxy
$ cd proxy
$ rm -fr public/ && ln -s /path/to/share public
$ ./bin/app.pl -p 8086

With that, we now have a single-threaded web server listening on port 8086 serving the files of /path/to/share.

If you need it to be more beefy, as in act like a real web server and deal with concurent requests, just plack it up:

$ plackup bin/app.pl -p 8086

Meanwhile, in the Comment Section...

noah has been suggesting a Python variant using its core module simpleHTTPServer:

$ python -mSimpleHTTPServer 

Aristotle, meanwhile, has summoned the power of Plack::App::Directory, which has the added bonus of generating auto-indexes:

$ plackup -MPlack::App::Directory -e'Plack::App::Directory->to_app'

That was going straight into my list of aliases as

alias instaweb="plackup -MPlack::App::Directory -e'Plack::App::Directory->to_app'"

but Pedro Melo chimed in and pointed our attention to App::HTTPThis, which uses Plack::App::Directory under the hood and provides the utility 'http_this'. With it, sharing a directory via http is as simple as running

$ cd /path/to/dir/we/wanna/share
$ http_this

Can things possibly get any sweeter?

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About the author

Yanick Champoux
Perl necrohacker , ACP writer, orchid lover. Slightly bonker all around. he/him/his