Apache HTTP Server
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|Original author(s)||Robert McCool|
|Developer(s)||Apache Software Foundation|
|Stable release||2.4.23 (July 4, 2016[±])|
|Written in||C, XML|
|Operating system||Unix-like, Windows|
|License||Apache License 2.0|
The Apache HTTP Server, colloquially called Apache (// ə-PA-chee), is the world's most used web server software. Originally based on the NCSA HTTPd server, development of Apache began in early 1995 after work on the NCSA code stalled. Apache played a key role in the initial growth of the World Wide Web, quickly overtaking NCSA HTTPd as the dominant HTTP server, and has remained most popular since April 1996. In 2009, it became the first web server software to serve more than 100 million websites.
Apache is developed and maintained by an open community of developers under the auspices of the Apache Software Foundation. Most commonly used on a Unix-like system (usually Linux), the software is available for a variety of operating systems besides Unix, including Microsoft Windows. Version 2.0 improved support for non-Unix, e.g. Windows and OS/2 (and eComStation). Old versions of Apache were ported to run on e.g. OpenVMS, and NetWare. Released under the Apache License, Apache is free and open-source software.
According to the FAQ in the Apache project website, the name Apache was chosen out of respect to the Native American tribe Apache and their superior skills in warfare and strategy. The name was widely believed to be a pun on 'A Patchy Server' (since it was a set of software patches). Official documentation used to give this explanation of the name, but in a 2000 interview, Brian Behlendorf, one of the creators of Apache, set the record straight:
The name literally came out of the blue. I wish I could say that it was something fantastic, but it was out of the blue. I put it on a page and then a few months later when this project started, I pointed people to this page and said: "Hey, what do you think of that idea?" ... Someone said they liked the name and that it was a really good pun. And I was like, "A pun? What do you mean?" He said, "Well, we're building a server out of a bunch of software patches, right? So it's a patchy Web server." I went, "Oh, all right." ... When I thought of the name, no. It just sort of connotated: "Take no prisoners. Be kind of aggressive and kick some ass."
When Apache is running, its process name is sometimes httpd, which is short for "HTTP daemon."
Apache supports a variety of features, many implemented as compiled modules which extend the core functionality. These can range from server-side programming language support to authentication schemes. Some common language interfaces support Perl, Python, Tcl, and PHP. Popular authentication modules include mod_access, mod_auth, mod_digest, and mod_auth_digest, the successor to mod_digest. A sample of other features include Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security support (mod_ssl), a proxy module (mod_proxy), a URL rewriting module (mod_rewrite), custom log files (mod_log_config), and filtering support (mod_include and mod_ext_filter).
Popular compression methods on Apache include the external extension module, mod_gzip, implemented to help with reduction of the size (weight) of Web pages served over HTTP. ModSecurity is an open source intrusion detection and prevention engine for Web applications. Apache logs can be analyzed through a Web browser using free scripts, such as AWStats/W3Perl or Visitors.
Virtual hosting allows one Apache installation to serve many different Web sites. For example, one machine with one Apache installation could simultaneously serve www.example.com, www.example.org, test47.test-server.example.edu, etc.
It supports password authentication and digital certificate authentication. Because the source code is freely available, anyone can adapt the server for specific needs, and there is a large public library of Apache add-ons.
HTTP server and proxy features
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- Loadable Dynamic Modules
- Multiple Request Processing modes (MPMs) including Event-based/Async, Threaded and Prefork.
- Highly scalable (easily handles more than 10,000 simultaneous connections)
- Handling of static files, index files, auto-indexing and content negotiation
- .htaccess support
- Reverse proxy with caching
- TLS/SSL with SNI and OCSP stapling support, via OpenSSL.
- Name- and IP address-based virtual servers
- HTTP/2 protocol support
- Fine-grained authentication and authorization access control
- gzip compression and decompression
- URL rewriting
- Headers and content rewriting
- Custom logging with rotation
- Concurrent connection limiting
- Request processing rate limiting
- Bandwidth throttling
- Server Side Includes
- IP address-based geolocation
- User and Session tracking
- Embedded Perl, PHP and Lua scripting
- CGI support
- public_html per-user web-pages
- Generic expression parser
- Real-time status views
- XML support
Instead of implementing a single architecture, Apache provides a variety of MultiProcessing Modules (MPMs), which allow Apache to run in a process-based, hybrid (process and thread) or event-hybrid mode, to better match the demands of each particular infrastructure. This implies that the choice of correct MPM and the correct configuration is important. Where compromises in performance need to be made, the design of Apache is to reduce latency and increase throughput, relative to simply handling more requests, thus ensuring consistent and reliable processing of requests within reasonable time-frames.
For delivery of static pages, Apache 2.2 series was considered significantly slower than nginx and varnish. To address this issue, the Apache developers created the Event MPM, which mixes the use of several processes and several threads per process in an asynchronous event-based loop. This architecture, and the way it was implemented in the Apache 2.4 series, provides for performance equivalent or slightly better than event-based web servers, as is cited by Jim Jagielski, the director of Apache Software Foundation, and some other sources. However, independent benchmarks show that it still is half as fast as nginx.
The Apache HTTP Server codebase was relicensed to the Apache 2.0 License (from the previous 1.1 license) in January 2004, and Apache HTTP Server 1.3.31 and 2.0.49 were the first releases using the new license.
The OpenBSD project did not like the change and continued the use of pre-2.0 Apache versions, effectively forking Apache 1.3.x for its purposes. They initially replaced it with Nginx, and soon after made their own replacement, OpenBSD Httpd, based on the relayd project.
|Version||Initial release||Latest release|
|Old version, no longer supported: 1.3||1998-06-06||2010-02-03 (1.3.42)|
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.0||2002-04-06||2013-07-10 (2.0.65)|
|Older version, yet still supported: 2.2||2005-12-01||2015-07-17 (2.2.31)|
|Current stable version: 2.4||2012-02-21||2016-07-04 (2.4.23)|
The Apache HTTP Server Project is a collaborative software development effort aimed at creating a robust, commercial-grade, feature-rich and freely available source code implementation of an HTTP (Web) server. The project is jointly managed by a group of volunteers located around the world, using the Internet and the Web to communicate, plan, and develop the server and its related documentation. This project is part of the Apache Software Foundation. In addition, hundreds of users have contributed ideas, code, and documentation to the project.
- Comparison of web server software
- IBM HTTP Server
- LAMP (software bundle)
- List of Apache modules
- POSSE project
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Platform support has been removed for BeOS, TPF, and even older platforms such as A/UX, Next, and Tandem. These were believed to be broken anyway.