Programming Assignment 1: A Simple Multi-threaded HTTP Server Solution

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In this assignment, you will implement a simple multi-threaded HTTP server that only accepts HTTP GET requests and returns the desired content to the client. This assignment is worth 7% of your total score in this course. You must work by yourself on this assignment and Please use Python (preferred), C/C++, or Java to implement this assignment.

  • Background

HTTP GET requests are used to request data from the specified source. For example, if we want to access a webpage at, our browser will send something similar to the following HTTP GET request.

GET /bar.html HTTP/1.1


User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux x86_64; rv:28.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/28.0

Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8

Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.5

Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate

Connection: keep-alive

In the above example, the Firefox browser is the client, and Host: is the server host name. The client is requesting server resource located at /bar.html. Usually, HTTP servers run on port 80. So, by default, the server port number is 80. If, for example, the HTTP server runs on port 8080, then the URL would be, and the Host field in the HTTP request will also contain the port number:

The HTTP server replies with HTTP response. A valid HTTP response includes: (1) the status line, (2) the response header, and (3) the message body. For example, the text below shows an HTTP response. Note that there is an empty line between the response header and the message body. This empty line indicates the end of header fields1.

HTTP/1.1 200 OK

Date: Thu, 02 Apr 2015 01:51:49 GMT

Server: Apache/2.2.16 (Debian)

Last-Modified: Tue, 10 Feb 2015 17:56:15 GMT

Accept-Ranges: bytes

Content-Length: 2693

Content-Type: text/html

… … <content of the bar.html>



  • Multi-threaded HTTP Server

Your HTTP server should support a subset of the HTTP standard. It only needs to serve HTTP GET requests and should only support basic portions of the standard. That is, you do not need to support persistent connections, request pipelining or other, advanced portions of the standard. Your server must only correctly handle HTTP requests where a single request/response pair is sent over a single TCP connection. Specifically, your server should operate as follows:

  • Your HTTP server should not take any command line arguments. It should create a TCP server socket to listen for incoming TCP connections on an unused port, and output the host name and port number the HTTP server is running on. Note: You must use sockets in this assignment.

  • It should look for a directory called www, located in the same directory as your HTTP server executable. The www directory should contain resources you want your HTTP server to serve. If this directory does not exist, the HTTP server should output an error message and quit.

  • When a new request comes in, the HTTP server accepts the connection, establishing a TCP connection with the client.

  • The HTTP server parses the HTTP request from the client and prepares an HTTP response.

  • The HTTP server looks up the requested resource from its local www directory.

If the requested resource is located by the HTTP server, prepare a response with status code “200 OK”, followed by response header and the content of the requested resource. The response header should include the following fields:

      • Date The date and time the response is originated in the format defined by RFC 7231 Date/Time Formats 2.

      • Server A name for your HTTP server. You can choose a server name you prefer.

      • Last-Modified Last modified time and date of the requested resource, also in RFC 7231 Date/-Time Formats.

      • Content-Type The MIME type of this content. You can use the mime.types file located at /etc/mime.types to determine the correct MIME type given a filename extension. If a file-name extension is not found in the mime.types file, you can use application/octet-stream.

      • Content-Length The length of the requested resource in bytes.

If the requested resource does not exist, reply with status code “404 Not Found”. You can be creative and write a fancy custom error page to return to the client.

  • After finishing sending the response, the HTTP server closes the socket connection to the client.

To maintain a high level of throughput even under multiple simultaneous client requests, different requests should be handled in different threads, with a new thread created for each client request.

2.1 How to test your implementation

You must test your HTTP server on the remote nodes of CS department computers: When accessing, you are actually redirected to one of the 8 REMOTE machines



({remote00, remote01, …, remote06, remote07} using DNS redirection. So to test your imple-mentation, you need to run your HTTP server on one of the REMOTE nodes and set your web client, e.g., wget3, to use the correct server host name: “”, instead of “”.

For example, suppose your HTTP server is started on port 47590. You can run the following command in an EMPTY directory on a different REMOTE computer to download the resource:



  • You MUST replace bar.html with a valid resource in your HTTP server directory!

  • Since this is only an HTTP server, not an HTTPS server, your URL MUST use HTTP, not HTTPS.

  • You may also run your HTTP server on your own machine and use Wireshark4 for debugging. However, you must test your implementation on REMOTE computers before submission.

  • Your web browser has a cache. A second request for the same URL may be directly served by your browser cache without going through your server. Therefore, you are recommended to use wget for debugging and testing.

After wget successfully downloads the requested resource, use the diff5 command to check if the down-loaded resource matches the resource located in the www directory.

wget has a few options that can help you debug your implementation. For example, the –limit-rate option allows you limit the download speed to a pre-specified amount. This can be helpful if you want to debug your multi-threaded implementation. If you need to inspect if your HTTP server constructs the HTTP response header correctly, you can take advantage of the –save-headers option. More information can be found at the manual page of wget.

Upon successfully serving a request, your HTTP server must write to standard output (stdout) the following items:

requested resource

client IP client’s IP address in dotted decimal representation

client port client’s port number

access times the number of times this resource has been requested since the start of the HTTP server

These four items of a same request should be printed to a same line and seperated by the “|” character. Below is an example:











  • Github classroom

To access this assignment, first log into your Github account created with your BU email. Then go to: https: // After clicking this link, Github classroom will ask you to join the class roster by selecting your email from a list. Github classroom will automatically create a repository (e.g., if your Github username is jdoe, the repository will be named cs457-cs557-pa1-jdoe). This is the repository you will push your code to.

This repository is a private repository. Only you, course instructor, and teaching assistants are able to see this repository. Follow the instruction on the Github page to create a new repository on your local directory and link it to the Github repository. Note that git is already installed on CS department computers. To use it on your own computer, you must install it first.

To add a file to the next commit, use the git add command. To commit your code, use the git commit command. Be sure to also push your commit to the Github repository after every commit using the git push command (e.g., git push origin master).

We expect each repository to have at least three commits, with the first one and the last one more than 48 hours apart.

If you have never used git before, you can start with a cheatsheet prepared by Github6. More detailed refer-ences are also available online7. You can also come to the instructor and the teaching assitants’ office hours.

  • How to submit

To submit, commit and push your latest code to the private Github repository Github classroom created. Your commit should contain the following files:

  1. All of your source code that implements the HTTP server. Note that your server executable should not take any command line arguments and must output the host name and port number it is running on.

  1. A Makefile to compile your source code into one executable, which should be named server.

  1. A Readme file describing how to compile and run your code on com-puters, a brief description of your implementation, and sample input/output.

  1. A STATEMENT file, containing the following statement followed by the student’s full name:

I have done this assignment completely on my own. I have not copied it, nor have I given my solution to anyone else. I understand that if I am involved in plagiarism or cheating I will have to sign an official form that I have cheated and that this form will be stored in my official university record. I also understand that I will receive a grade of 0 for the involved assignment and my grade will be reduced by one level (e.g., from A to A- or from B+ to B) for my first offense, and that I will receive a grade of “F” for the course for any additional offense of any kind.”

After pushing your final commit to the Github repository, please let us know by submitting your commit hash to myCourses. There are two ways to locate your commit hash: You can type git log in your local repository, which will output the commit history. Locate the commit you want to use as your final submission, record the hash associated with the commit. Alternatively, you can also go to the Github page of your repository, e.g., and locate it on the webpage.




It is important that you submit your commit hash to myCourses. This helps us know your submission is ready for grading and which of your commits we should grade. We will not grade your assignment unless you have submitted the commit hash to myCourses before the assignment submission deadline

Your assignment will be graded on the CS Department computers It is your responsibility to make sure that your code compiles and runs correctly on these remoteXX computers.

Your assignment must be your original work. We will use MOSS8 to detect plagiarism in the projects.


You can download the following files into your local www directory and have your HTTP server serve these re-sources.