Create your first website on Cloud Servers quickly

  • Last updated on: 2019-12-20
  • Authored by: David Hendler

The Rackspace Cloud can save you both time and money. This guide shows you how you can accomplish this by turning your idea into a working site. This process includes the following basic steps:

  1. Build the infrastructure.
  2. Upload your code.
  3. Test your site.

The project that you’re bringing to the cloud is probably much more complicated than what this guide covers. However, the process that this guide uses helps you successfully deploy any web site or application.

This guide is not a comprehensive tour of Cloud Servers. However, by following these instructions, you are establishing the fundamentals that you can build on by reading other articles and guides.


The information in this guide is practical. If you plan to follow along, you might need to download and install the following software:

  • A Secure Shell (SSH) client application
  • An SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) client application

If you don’t have a website to upload, you can use a sample HTML file that we created for this exercise. Right-click on the link to save the file.

Build the infrastructure

In this section, you create your server, connect to it, and install the Apache® web server package to turn the server into a web server.

Create a cloud server

Use the following steps to create a cloud server:

  1. Log in to the Cloud Control Panel by using the user name and password that you entered when you created your account.

    The Cloud Control Panel supports many Rackspace products and services. For more information about the Cloud Control Panel, see Introducing the Rackspace Cloud Control Panel.

  2. In the top navigation bar, click Select a Product > Rackspace Cloud.

  3. Select Servers > Cloud Servers, then click Create Server.

    In most cases, you can deploy the right infrastructure with just a few clicks.

    You have a large amount of control when you create a new cloud server. However, to keep things simple, this guide focuses on the three required parts: name, image, and size.

  4. Name your cloud server.

    The name of your cloud server should communicate its role (for example, web server or database) and what it’s hosting.

  5. Select an image.

    The image that you select contains both the operating system (OS) and preselected software.

  6. Select a flavor.

    The term flavor refers to the capacity of the server’s central processing unit (CPU), Random Access Memory (RAM), and hard drive. You can think of the flavor as the size of the server. When you need more power, you want to select a bigger cloud server, which means a higher-capacity flavor. Because this is just a test server, we recommend that you select the 8 GB General Purpose v1 flavor.

  7. Click Create Server.

    A pop-up window displays your server’s Root Admin Password. You need this password to connect to the server later in this guide, so ensure that you copy it before you click Dismiss Password.

  8. Verify that the build is complete.

    The time it takes for your cloud server to build depends on the image and flavor that you selected. The server is finished building and is ready for a connection when the Server Status is Active.

  9. Copy the public IP address.

    In the Networks and Security Groups section of the Server Details page, find and copy the server’s IPv4 address (PublicNet) so that you can use it in the next section.

Connect to your server

Now that you have an active cloud server, you need to make it a web server. You do this by connecting to it and installing the Apache web server package.

You can connect to a server in several ways, but the standard and most secure method is called Secure Shell (SSH). SSH enables you to send information to and from your server in a secure fashion.

  1. Connect from either a MacOS® X or Windows® computer. For instructions about how to connect, select the article that corresponds to your desktop operating system:

  2. Type yes and then press Enter.

  3. Type or paste the password that you copied in step 6 when you created the server.

    If the password is correct, you connect to your server. You see a screen similar to the following one:

Install Apache

To install Apache, enter the following command in the Terminal window:

apt-get install apache2 -y

Some information scrolls by in your Terminal window. This is your server downloading and installing Apache and any software that Apache might need to operate correctly.

Test Apache with your web browser

After the command is finished running, ensure that Apache is installed and turned on. Paste the (PublicNet) IPv4 address of your cloud server into the navigation bar of a web browser. If you see the message “It works!”, you now have a web server installed on your cloud server.

This “It works!” site file is stored as index.html in your DocumentRoot directory.

Upload your code

The next step is to upload your site. You might be familiar with File Transfer Protocol (FTP) as a way to upload and download files from another computer. Rackspace Cloud Servers uses SFTP for added security, so you need an FTP client that supports SFTP connections. Fortunately, many popular and free FTP clients support SFTP connections.

Establish an SFTP connection with your server

Use the following steps to establish an SFTP connection with your server:

  1. When you create a new connection, ensure that you choose the SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) option.
  2. For the server, type the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the cloud server.
  3. For the username, enter root.
  4. For the password, enter the root user’s password.
  5. Click the option to establish the new connection to your server.

Upload your site

The next step is to upload your site to the cloud server. However, you must upload the HTML file to the correct location on the cloud server.

Apache is configured to look in a specific directory for content to serve on the web. This special directory is referred to as the DocumentRoot.

On a server running the Ubuntu® operating system, the DocumentRoot is located at /var/www, so you must upload your site file to that directory. Navigate to that directory in your SFTP client, then replace the existing index.html file with your file.

Test your site

Now that the correct HTML file is uploaded to the correct directory, you should see your site when you refresh your browser, as shown in the following image:

Next steps

Several resources are available to help you progress:

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