A WebServer Guide -- Help Using Apache
What is a Web Server?
Before we get into the
particulars of Apache, let\'s talk about what a web server is. A
web server is a program that runs
on a host computer (also, confusingly enough, called a web server) that serves
up web sites. In other words, the web server program sits around awaiting
requests from visitors\' web browsers for objects it has in its possession, and
then sends these objects back for the visitor\'s viewing pleasure. Objects that
web servers can serve include HTML documents, plain text, images, sounds,
video, and other forms of data. These objects may not necessarily exist in
static form, but instead are generated on-the-fly by programs run by the
server; CGI scripts are the most common of these programs.
Web servers and browsers
communicate using HTTP, Hypertext
simple but effective language for requesting and transmitting data over a
network. Thus, you\'ll sometimes hear web servers referred to as HTTP servers.
Web servers come in various
shapes and sizes. They run under a variety of operating systems, have varying
levels of power and complexity, and range in price from rather expensive to
What\'s so special about
-- Apache\'s performance and reliability is legendary.
-- The Apache server sports a host of features, including: XML support,
server-side includes, powerful URL-rewriting, and virtual hosting, to name
but a few. We\'ll be talking about some of these features in future articles.
-- Looking for a feature not implemented in the core Apache server? Chances
are you\'ll find a module that can add the functionality you need.
-- Can\'t find a module that suits your purposes? Well, as Apache is open
source, you can write one yourself. In fact, you can even make changes to
the inner workings of Apache. All the information you need is right there in
the source code and numerous online resources. Share your patches or modules
with the community by making them open source as well!
-- At the time of this writing, Apache holds a smidge under 60 percent of
the web server market. And, yes, popularity does count; help abounds and is
only a mailing list or newsgroup posting away.