W3C httpd FAQ

Running Under Shell

You don't have to run the daemon under the inetd if it doesn't work (and we recommend running it standalone anyway). You can run it from a shell session.

Run W3C httpd from your terminal turned on, with a different port number like 8080:

        httpd -p 8080
Note: You must be root (under VMS, have some privilege) to run with a port number below 1024. If you select a port above 1024, then you can run as a normal user. This way, anyone can publish files on the net. Howeever, it isn't very reliable, as your server will not automatically come back up if the machine is rebooted. In the long term it is best to install it to be started from the system startup file /etc/rc or /etc/rc.local.

You may not be able to use a port number which has been used by a daemon process recently (port may still be bound), so you may have to switch port number if you ^C and restart httpd. When it is running like this, you can also read the debugging messages (when running with -v option), and use a debugger on it if necessary. (See also: telnetting to the server).

Debugging using Trace

If you can't understand why a server refuses to give back a document, then run with the -v option to turn on debugging messages. Use -v as the very first command line option (this way debugging is turned on right away). You will see the daemon setting up the rules for translating requests into local URLs, and you will see its attept to access the file (assuming you map requests onto files).
        httpd -v -p 8080
Try to access the document from a client using another terminal window. Look at the debugging output. It will probably explain what is happening. If you still can't figure out the problem, mail your local guru help desk or if desperate httpd@w3.org enclosing a copy of debugging output.

Even simpler

For testing a daemon very simply, without using a client, you can make the terminal be the client. With httpd try just running it with the terminal and typing GET /document/url into its input:
        httpd -v
        GET /document/url

httpd@w3.org, July 1995