The most important step in bringing an Internet server online is making sure it can be found from the outside world.
Mac OS X, in addition to being a fabulous desktop machine, also has a full-fledged Unix server humming away beneath the hood. You can serve up web pages [Hack #88], send mail through your own sendmail [Hack #82] server, retrieve mail using IMAP or POP [Hack #82], and so much more.
Of course, bringing a server (particularly a web server) online isn’t all that helpful unless you make sure it can be found and reached from the outside world.
Whether you are on a local intranet or on the Internet, an IP address is how people locate your computer. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, but when you register a domain name, you are required to point that domain to a name server, and that name server has an IP address.
The problem is that most DSL/cable companies give you a fat connection, but they don’t include a static (nonchanging) IP address. They usually assign you a dynamic IP address that might change hourly, daily, or whatever. The problem is that you can’t point to a domain name or locate your computer on the Internet if the IP address is always changing. It’s like having your computer in the witness relocation program. Luckily, there is a solution.
Your first option is getting a static IP address from your DSL/cable provider. My DSL provider wants to charge me an additional $10 per month for that ...