I've been often asked, why do we sometimes need to specify the IP for a program to be
0.0.0.0 in order to get it to be accessible from machines outsides the network. I shall attempt to answer the question in this post.
127.0.0.1 is the loopback address. It means, whatever request is made, send it back to the same machine. When a remote host calls this, they're actually calling themselves.
localhost is simply a conventional mapping done in the
hosts file of the OS. It can be changed. I could ask
google.com to point to my loopback address and that would work same.
0.0.0.0 is a wildcard for all open routes to the system within the system where the script runs.
We specifically face the problem of differentiating them in Flask/Django/NodeJS applications because these are runtimes which require the user to define which IP (or routes) to listen on. If you've ever tried web development on PHP, you'd realize that the
localhost web server was accessible using the IP of the computer's LAN as well from other devices (say your mobile). This is because by default Apache listens on
*:80 which essentially means
0.0.0.0:80, as given in its default virtual host configuration file -
# Ensure that Apache listens on port 80
Today, in under 3 minutes you learnt a very important difference between the different kind of IP addresses you generally encounter during development and while dealing with networks on the same machine!
I'll post more on 8th Jan, 2020! Bookmark my site to stay tuned!
I am a web developer turned machine learning explorer who loves mixing and matching various stacks! I lead the team at The Code Foundation and we love solving problems about computer vision and NLP!
Send me a hi on firstname.lastname@example.org