Apache HTTP Server

The Apache HTTP Server, commonly referred to as Apache (pronounced /əˈpætʃiː/), is web server software notable for playing a key role in the initial growth of the World Wide Web. In 2009 it became the first web server software to surpass the 100 million web site milestone. Apache was the first viable alternative to the Netscape Communications Corporation web server (currently known as Oracle iPlanet Web Server), and has since evolved to rival other Unix-based web servers in terms of functionality and performance. The majority of web servers using Apache run a Unix-like operating system.[citation needed]

Apache is developed and maintained by an open community of developers under the auspices of the Apache Software Foundation. The application is available for a wide variety of operating systems, including Unix, GNUFreeBSDLinuxSolarisNovell NetWareMac OS XMicrosoft WindowsOS/2,TPF, and eComStation. Released under the Apache License, Apache is characterized as open-source software.

Since April 1996 Apache has been the most popular HTTP server software in use. As of February 2010 Apache served over 54.46% of all websites and over 66% of the million busiest.

Apache HTTP Server
Original author(s) Robert McCool
Developer(s) Apache Software Foundation
Initial release 1995[1]
Stable release 2.2.16 / July 25, 2010; 10 days ago
Preview release 2.3.6-alpha / June 18, 2010; 47 days ago
Written in C
Operating system Cross-platform
Available in English
Type Web server
License Apache License 2.0
Website http://httpd.apache.org/

History and name

The pre-release versions (before 0.6.2) of the Apache web server software was created by Robert McCool, who was heavily involved with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications web server, known simply as NCSA HTTPd. When McCool left NCSA in mid-1994, the development of httpd stalled, leaving a variety of patches for improvements circulating through e-mails. These patches were provided by a number of other developers besides McCool:Brian BehlendorfRoy FieldingRob HartillDavid RobinsonCliff SkolnickRandy TerbushRobert S. ThauAndrew WilsonEric HagbergFrank Petersand Nicolas Pioch, and they thus helped to form the original “Apache Group“.

There have been two explanations of the project’s name. According to the Apache Foundation, the name was chosen out of respect for the Native Americantribe of Apache (Indé), well-known for their endurance and their skills in warfare. However, the original FAQ on the Apache Server project’s website, from 1996 to 2001, claimed that “The result after combining [the NCSA httpd patches] was a patchy server. The first explanation was supported at an Apache Conference and in an interview in 2000 by Brian Behlendorf, who said that the name connoted “Take no prisoners. Be kind of aggressive and kick some ass”. Behlendorf then contradicted this in a 2007 interview, stating that “The Apache server isn’t named in honor of Geronimo’s tribe” but that so many revisions were sent in that “the group called it ‘a patchy Web server'”. Both explanations are probably appropriate.

The very first version (0.6.2) of publicly distributed Apache was released in April 1995. The 1.0 version was released on December 1, 1995.

Version 2 of the Apache server was a substantial re-write of much of the Apache 1.x code, with a strong focus on further modularization and the development of a portability layer, the Apache Portable Runtime. The Apache 2.x core has several major enhancements over Apache 1.x. These include UNIX threading, better support for non-Unix platforms (such as Microsoft Windows), a new Apache API, and IPv6 support. The first alpha release of Apache 2 was in March 2000, with the first general availability release on April 6, 2002.

Version 2.2 introduced a more flexible authorization API. It also features improved cache modules and proxy modules.


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 PerlPythonTcl, 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 SSL and TLS support (mod_ssl), a proxy module (mod_proxy), a URL rewriter (also known as a rewrite engine, implemented under 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 HTTPModSecurity 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 actual websites. For example, one machine with one Apache installation could simultaneously serve www.example.com, www.test.com, test47.test-server.test.com, etc.

Apache features configurable error messages, DBMS-based authentication databases, and content negotiation. It is also supported by several graphical user interfaces (GUIs).


Apache is primarily used to serve both static content and dynamic Web pages on the World Wide Web. Many web applications are designed expecting the environment and features that Apache provides.

Apache is redistributed as part of various proprietary software packages including the Oracle Database and the IBM WebSphere application server. Mac OS X integrates Apache as its built-in web server and as support for its WebObjects application server. It is also supported in some way by Borland in the Kylix and Delphi development tools. Apache is included with Novell NetWare 6.5, where it is the default web server. Apache is included with many Linux distributions.

Apache is used for many other tasks where content needs to be made available in a secure and reliable way. One example is sharing files from a personal computer over the Internet. A user who has Apache installed on their desktop can put arbitrary files in Apache’s document root which can then be shared.

Programmers developing web applications often use a locally installed version of Apache in order to preview and test code as it is being developed.

Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) is the main competitor to Apache, followed by Sun Microsystems‘ Sun Java System Web Server and a host of other applications such as Zeus Web Server.


Although the main design goal of Apache is not to be the “fastest” web server, Apache does have performance comparable to other “high-performance” web servers. 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.


The software license under which software from the Apache Foundation is distributed is a distinctive part of the Apache HTTP Server’s history and presence in the open-source software community. The Apache License allows for the distribution of both open and closed source derivations of the source code.

The Free Software Foundation does not consider the Apache License to be compatible with version 2 of the GNU General Public License (GPL) in that software licensed under the Apache License cannot be integrated with software that is distributed under the GPL:

This is a free software license but it is incompatible with the GPL. The Apache Software License is incompatible with the GPL because it has a specific requirement that is not in the GPL: it has certain patent termination cases that the GPL does not require. We don’t think those patent termination cases are inherently a bad idea, but nonetheless they are incompatible with the GNU GPL.

However, version 3 of the GPL includes a provision (Section 7e) which allows it to be compatible with licenses that have patent retaliation clauses, including the Apache License.

The name Apache is a registered trademark and may only be used with the trademark holder’s express permission.

2 Responses to Apache HTTP Server

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