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Technical Support

Tech Support: MapIt;

The MapIt gadget

We provide a tool in the /sec-bin/ area which you can use to tell the webserver to do different things based on the domain name the visitor is using to come to your site. With an IP based hosting account, you can use this to do your own name based hosting. (e.g. unlimited domains for free!)

The mapit tool itself is very easy to use. However, getting the extra domains setup to work correctly can be a little more challenging. I will provide a couple of sets of "cookbook type" instructions below, but since I prefer to understand what it is that I am doing, I will try to explain that first.

The Theory

IP Based Hosting

First, we need to understand a little about how a webserver works. In the "old days", a web-browser would connect to a webserver and simply request a page. More modern browsers send a few extra pieces of information (headers) along with the request for a page. One of those "headers" is a "Host header", which is the name of the webserver that the web-browser is connecting to. In "really old days" (before BareMetal got into web-hosting), a computer could only host one website. Someone got the bright idea that a webserver could tell which IP address a web-browser was connecting to, and if the computer had multiple IP addresses, the webserver could serve a different website for each IP address that the web-browsers connected to. This was how "virtual web hosting" was done in the mid 90s when started providing hosting.

IP based hosting is still relevant, because it allows you to implement your own named based hosting. If we have an IP based account configured for you, then the webserver will serve all requests for that IP address out of your directory, and the mapit gadget can configure how that is done based on the Host header.

Name Based Hosting

"Name based web hosting" is the process of serving different websites or different content based on the "Host" header that the web-browser sends to the webserver. Normally a name based webserver is configured with a list of domains and corresponding directories to serve content from.

Name Based Hosting - via the mapit gadget

With the mapit gadget, we combine IP based and name based hosting. With IP based hosting, all requests for an IP address are served from one directory tree. Since we run a highly configurable webserver (Apache) which can read configuration information from the directories it is serving files from, we can add rules that tell it to do different things based on the Host header, and thus implement our own name based hosting. This is precisely what the mapit gadget does, it adds (mod_rewrite) rules to your .htaccess file to tell the webserver to do different things based on what site name the web-browser is connecting to.

The Practice

Configuring DNS to get the web-browsers to connect directly to your specific IP address is the "hardest" part of getting mapit to work. Traditional web-forwarding techniques (redirects, framesets, etc) don't work, as the browser is connecting to the name of the basic site and not directly to the domain name you want to serve content for.

If you are familiar with DNS, then you will know that this is not that complicated. There are number of steps to be completed, but none are very complicated.

I will cover three methods of getting DNS setup. The first assumes you run your own DNS servers, the second is getting to do it, and the third is using our (free) service.

Your own DNS servers

If you run your own DNS servers, we recommend you add a CNAME record for the new domain you want to point to your basic account, and set the CNAME to the name of your basic account. (This is a tich slower to resolve than loading the IP address directly, but is far easier to maintain, and won't break if we have to move the basic account to another IP address.)

Get to do DNS

This title is a bit of an over simplification, but basically, if you can change the DNS servers for the domain you want to use via mapit to be ns/ns2/, then our techs can add it as an alias to your basic account. This has the side effect (advantage?) that e-mail for the domain will work exactly the same as it does for your basic account. (And if your domain is registered via BareMetal, we should even be able to change the DNS servers for you.)

Use to do DNS

I'm going to describe the process for configuring your new domain to use in two manners. The first is the "raw" steps, which will be appropriate for folks who are _not_ using BareMetal's registration services. Then I'll follow it with the BareMetal version.

To get to do anything for your domain, you need to get the DNS servers for your domain (domain registration) set to to be and Then you need to either login to your account (or create one if you don't have one). If the domain doesn't exist in yet you will need to use the "add a zone" button to add it.

Then you want to go into the "edit zone" link for the domain so that we can setup the CNAME records. You want to get the zone to look like the simplified example below, where we are pointing to "BASIC.COM" using a CNAME record.

Host Web Service or IP/CName Mail Command  

For BareMetal registered domains, the process is similar, except that the my-account wizard can do most of the work in a single step. (You can have the system change the DNS servers to the ones, create a account (if needed) and load the zone for you via the "web service wizard".) Simply take the "My-Account" link from, login with your billing id and billing password, click on the domains list, click on the domain you want to point at your basic account. On the resulting detail page there should be a link for either "add web service" or "change web service", click on it, select "Set up custom DNS" (and click next), and select "finish" on the next page. Now go back to the domain detail page (e.g. via the domains list). Click on the link for "Manage Forwarding/Custom DNS". This should take you straight into for the specific domain. You should be able to click on 'edit zone' and setup the CNAMEs as described in the paragraph above.

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Last updated: Thursday, 28-May-2015 16:14:41 PDT
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