The Apache Web Server

As we've mentioned, there are a number of commercial and freely available web servers in existence. Among the commercial web servers are offerings from Netscape, IPlanet, SunONE, Microsoft (the Internet Information Server, or IIS), and Zeus. Among the open source web servers, we can list Apache, thttpd, and Redhat TUX.

Of all these, Apache is most widely used. At the time of writing, 66% of all web sites are hosted on Apache web servers (according to the Netcraft Web Server Survey, http://www.netcraft.com/survey) - the vast majority of them running on Linux or Unix operating systems. Apache's popularity is due not only of its open source pedigree, but also to its highly competitive levels of performance, functionality, stability, flexibility, and security:

• Apache's flexibility comes from the fact that it is a modular web server. That means that you can meet your requirements by plugging any number of external modules into the core httpd daemon. Of course, being open source software, you also have access to Apache's source code, which you can customize to fit your needs.

Apache is also very scalable. You can run Apache on high-end hardware, and it's possible to increase the capacity of Apache web servers by sharing the load across any number of servers. It's also very portable, being available for a number of operating systems.

• Apache's security is very good in comparison to other web servers. Moreover, the Apache Foundation is extremely active in the continued defense of Apache from security problems - particularly in the form of announcements and patches.

• Apache performs very well - it boasts a highly optimized daemon for serving static content which dramatically outperforms its nearest rivals. Moreover, it rarely crashes and achieves extremely long up-times.

• Apache comes with detailed documentation, which helps to make the setup and configuration easy. And of course, because it's so popular there's a wide network of support for Apache, in the form of mailing lists, newsgroups, and commercial vendors like Red Hat.

• Apache development is active. The Apache Foundation is actively involved in development of new modules; new versions of Apache to make it reliable stable and secure.

Since you've already got Red Hat Linux 9, there's another good reason for choosing Apache as your web server software - it's included as part of the Red Hat Linux 9 distribution! At the time of writing, the latest version of Apache is 2.0.44.

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