Running a web server, WordPress on my phone

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I was finally able to run an Apache, PHP, MySQL server on my Sony Ericsson K750i. I did it on my second attempt, the first was disastrous, and that’s putting it mildly, as I crashed my phone and I had to reformat its memory card, wiping out several photos I haven’t been able to save to my PC yet.

I have long wanted to set up a development web server in my K750i, which also serves as my primary USB drive.

wordpress in k750i WORDPRESS ON MY PHONE. Installing WordPress on my K750i, using Uniform Server. The phone doesn’t actually run it, its memory card is merely being used by the PC to run the server. Click on image to enlarge.

I use my shared hosting space for my WordPress-related work and experiments as well as tests on PHP/MySQL scripts that catch my interest. This setup is such a hassle. I have to FTP files to and from the server and sometimes connections can be so slow that frustration creeps in.

The files in my account have also become such a mess because I’ve tried quite a few scripts, each with its own sub-domain.

I decided I should have a “web server on a stick,” a functioning Apache, MySQL and PHP server on a thumb drive. The Sony Ericsson K750i, as with most multi-media phones, also serves as a USB mass storage drive. This makes it possible to set up an Apache server on its memory card.

I first tried installing the server in August using Xampp Lite and I failed. Not only did I fail to make it run, my phone crashed, the screen just froze and I had to turn it off by taking out the battery. After I turned it on, my PC couldn’t connect to it through its USB cable and the phone had intermittent problems detecting the memory card.

I reformatted the card and reinstalled its drivers in my PC and it fixed the errors. But in the process of fixing it, I lost several photos I wanted to use for my blog entries.

After that fiasco, I stuck to using my shared account for testing and experiments.

K750i directory SERVER SPACE. I placed the Uniform Server files in a Server folder in the MSSEMC\Media files\ directory. Click on photo to enlarge.

The need to have a portable web server on a USB drive resurfaced this month, when I took on projects that required me to present proposals and show files offline to a group of people still not comfortable with sharing files online. The K750i was out of the question as portable storage for me because the drive isn’t recognized when you first plug it into a PC or laptop, you need to install drivers.

I bought a cheap USB drive for the sharing of the files and decided to try installing a portable web server again. I successfully set one up using Uniform Server, which is easy to install (just unzipping of files really) and comes in a very small package: 33MB on the disk for an Apache, PHP, MySQL web server that also comes with PHPMyAdmin, among other things.

I’m now using the USB drive as my primary testing and development server. But the ease by which Uniform Server was installed got me into wondering whether I could also install it in my K750i.

I backed up all my data, copying everything in my memory card to my PC and using Float’s Mobile Agent to back up phone data such as contacts, messages and calendar items.

I unzipped Uniform Server into my phone, creating a Server folder in the MSSEMC\Media files\ directory. After everything was copied, I started the server but the admin panel, which is opened right after you start the server, wouldn’t start. It turned out that there is a bug in the release if you use any other drive letter assignment apart from the default “W.”

Uniform Server in K750i ADMIN PANEL. The admin panel of Uniform Server running on my phone. Click to enlarge.

I downloaded the patch and then started the server again. This time it worked. The admin panel opened and I could start administering my site. I then tried installing WordPress and Drupal, copying and editing the files using a file manager and then creating databases using PhpMyAdmin. Oh, an if you’re wondering what MySQL username and password to enter in your installation config, it’s root (username) and root (password), unless you change it.

The WordPress installation went without a hitch. I set up a perfectly functioning blog in a couple of minutes. The installation of the latest Drupal beta, however, did not work. I got a server timeout error involving one of the files that appeared to be populating my MySQL database with data.

The only hitch in the setup is that it is slow, way slower than it is with my cheap USB drive. And the server appeared to choke after I got a series of text messages and one call, which I didn’t answer.

After playing with it for a couple of hours, I deleted the installation. I checked my phone and everything seemed to be working. If I didn’t need to share data by actually plugging a USB drive into other people’s PC and laptop, I would have continued using my K750i as portable web server. As it is, my phone is connected to my office PC most of the time.

Still, it was a fun experiment.

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7 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! Just last night I was thinking that I should look into installing apache,php,mysql and wordpress on a thumb drive for the same reasons. I’m glad I found your post.

    Thank you.

  2. Cool!

    I am running into another issue. I want to access my PC’s localhost via Mobile. How do I do tht? can you guide me?

  3. I am impressed. Runing a server on a phone. How do you do to start the server, the phone is not MS based. Can you run tomcat? How do you access the memory card ? usingFloat? Could you please give me more details?? tks

  4. Leonardo,
    In this setup I used Uniform Server, it’s similar to those server on a stick setup for USB storage devices. The phone really has nothing to do with the setup, I’m just using the memory stick installed in it.

    To access the memory card, I just use my favorite file manager: Total Commander. I haven’t tried running Tomcat under the setup.

    But I’m now running Ubuntu in my laptop so I’ve stopped using portable web servers. :-)

  5. Why would you want to run a development server on a cell phone? Seems pretty wasteful in my humble opinion. Just do it the tried-and-true way using an apache/php/mysql server on your local PC. Do all of your development & testing and FTP the project when you’re done. Voila, no mess, no “phone crashing” and wasting time reformatting memory cards. Or perhaps I missed the reason why it’s a good idea to have the setup w/cell phone.

  6. Great article! exactly what I was looking for, but I have a question, if you can help me, I have a pda with WM5, I unzipped the uniform server, but I do not know how to start it, the unicontroller app it is not design for WM, how did you started the server?
    For brian… I can test web pages with php on the bus ;)

  7. I have an advice.
    Even thou you got it working, I just want to inform you about WOS and WOSX, which we are using on our website development.

    WOS is an acronym for Webserver-On-Stick and is really good.

    Check out http://wos.chsoftware.net/

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