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Web presence options

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If you are a member of staff or researcher wanting a new web presence for some project or collaboration that you are working on, then there are various options available.

Each option has its own pros and cons, and they depend on what you are looking for, as to which will best suit your purpose.

In rough order of simplicity, but with less control, to the most control, but also most effort for you we have.

  1. Wordpress site on blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/project-name/. A familiar blogging service, with some basic themes available. It does not support virtual hosting. It uses Cosign authentication, and iFriend access is supported.
  2. Wiki pages on the central wiki service. This services is run by the University's Information Services, it does not support virtual hosting. Uses the University's EASE authentication.
  3. groups.inf.ed.ac.uk/project-name/ type space. Here "project-name" just points at a bit of AFS file space, and any files (typically HTML) just appear on the web at that location. How you manage and generate the HTML is up to you. Though I used "groups.inf" in this example, we have similar "workshops.inf", "events.inf", and "conferences.inf" URLs. Generally we do not support CGI for these sites, but PHP is supported. Cosign (with iFriend) authentication is available.
  4. Plone based WCMS (Web Content Management System) at wcms.inf.ed.ac.uk/project-name/, though virtual hosting is available - see later. Currently running Plone 3.2, various skins are available (including "Institute in a Box"), but all configuration must be done through the web. No file level access.
  5. DICE managed server, but user managed apache. There could be a cost dependent on hardware used, real or virtual. Nearly complete control over apache and whatever software you want to run, providing it comes from the stock DICE environment. You can ask for a project-name.inf.ed.ac.uk address, or point your own domain at it. There can sometimes be issues with file permissions as you don't get root access to the server .
  6. Fully self-managed server, either purchased by yourself or supplied by Informatics, the cost would depend on the hardware. Obviously you'd get root access, but you have to do all the work yourself. We reserve the right to remove firewall holes for your server if it appears to be vulnerable to exploits, or has indeed been exploited.

Apart from the Wordpress services (which you can setup yourself), or the Wiki service (which is run by IS), you should submit a support ticket to discus your needs for the option you are most interested in.

Virtual hosting

Nearly all of the above options support virtual hosting, by that I mean that if you have your own domain, eg my-project.org, then (providing you have administrative privileges to the domain) your web content can be served as www.my-project.org, and not as something in the .inf.ed.ac.uk domain. The only services that do not support this at the moment are blog.inf.ed.ac.uk and the Wiki service. Though ISPs will usually offer simple redirecting or a frame based option to sort of achieve the affect you may be looking for.

Important things to bear in mind

Regardless of which option you may pick, certain things you must adhere to:
  • Laws regarding data protection and privacy (eg logging and cookies). See the "Legal" section of computing.help.inf.ed.ac.uk/guidelines
  • No commercial activities can be hosted on University infrastructure.
Last reviewed: 
24/02/2015

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