Create a HTTP server from the command line

Sometimes when prototyping I just need a HTML file and a little bit of CSS. Viewing this with a local server is a lot more true to form than opening the file in a browser. Here's how to do it in a few different languages, depending on what you have installed.

For the sake of brevity, I'm going to assume you have a file called index.html in your current directory, and you're running the commands from that directory.


Good ol' Python makes it easy and built-in. Just run the following command:

python3 -m http.server

This will start a server on port 8000, and to change that port just pass it like so: python3 -m http.server 8001.

Python is probably a lot more commonly installed than other options, so this is a good first one to try.


Hat tip to PHP here for keeping it simple:

php -S localhost:8000

The syntax here should look familiar, but PHP doesn't assume anything with your port, so don't forget to pass one.


Rust doesn't ship with a built-in server, but it makes it easy to get one. I've used cargo-server project link, which you'll need to install first with cargo.

cargo install cargo-server

This isn't instant, but it's pretty quick. Once it's done, you can run the following command to get a server on port 8000:

cargo server

Change the port by passing --port <port>.


Lastly, I use http-server project link, which uses npx. You can install http-server globally, but I prefer to use npx to avoid global installs.

npx http-server

http-server takes a few options, but the only one I find myself using is -p to specify the port. By default, it uses 8080.