First published: 16th October 1998
Report from ApacheCon '98
This is a report about the first ever conference
dedicated to Apache, held in October 1998 in San Franscisco.
First published 16th October 1998.
The conference ran from October 14th to October 16th, at the
San Francisco Hilton in California, USA. This is the largest
hotel in San Francisco, and is located in the downtown area.
In total, just under 500 people registered for the
conference. While most people came from the US and Canada,
there were also a signficant number of people from Europe.
For the first conference on Apache, this was a very good
attendence, and the exhibitors and sponsors were very happy
with the number of people at the conference. In addition,
most of the 18 core Apache developers also attended, coming
from the US, Canada, Italy, UK and Germany.
This article contains some links to pictures taken at the
conference. Some additional
pictures are also available.
The keynote speeches
The first general session on the 14th started with a keynote
speech from author Bruce Sterling (picture).
This was not directly related to Apache, but contained
Bruce's thoughts on the future of a networked society.
This was followed by another keynote, from John
Gilmore of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) (picture).
The EFF is an organisation concerned with freedom and
liberties in computing and the Internet. He outlined
objections to software patents, and covered the problems
caused by the US export restrictions on secure encryption.
Decisions about what is exportable and what is not exportable
from the US are made by government employees, without any
ability to appeal. Even worse, government employees can
revoke export permission at any time without giving any
reason, which could seriously affect businesses who rely on
exports. The export restrictions were applied to the NCSA
httpd server, where the government demanded that the server
removed all "hooks" which could allow encryption to be added,
even thoughb there was no actual encryption technology in the
server. This is the reason that Apache does not contain any
hooks to enable encryption to be added.
The first talk on the second day was by John Patrick
from IBM (picture).
He talked about his view of how the Internet will evolve. In
the last session, David Filo from Yahoo! showed how
Yahoo! has used open source software (picture).
They started by using commercial operating systems and
home-written web servers, but had problems with vendors not
being able to scale to the huge number of hits they soon
received. They moved to FreeBSD so they could read and if
necessary tweak the operating system code. They also use
Apache on most of their servers and find that the majority of
the performance limitations come from the application layer
There were four parallel tracks running throughout the
conference, with a total of 55 talks. The tracks were Dynamic
Content, Performance, Security and Case Studies.
On the Dynamic Content track there were talks about using
Java servlets at beginner, advanced, and performance levels.
Two talks about PHP showed beginner and advanced techniques.
There were also talks on writing Apache modules and mod_perl
(although unfortunately the first mod_perl session could not
be given by the original presenter and the second advanced
session had to be cancelled).
The Performance track covered making Apache go faster on
Windows and Unix systems, using servlets efficiently, and
tweaking Linux and FreeBSD. Also on this track was a
presentation on how the Netscape Portable Runtime (NSPR)
package (available under Netscape's NPL license) could be
integrated with Apache to provide a multi-threading Apache on
all Unix platforms as well as NT. There was also a talk about
how the Apache development process works and how people with
contributions can get involved.
On the Security track the talk about the new mod_ssl package
was popular. The author presented what mod_ssl does and why
it was created from the existing Apache-SSL package. Also on
this track was an introduction to SSL and TLS, basic security
issues in Apache, NT security, and a panel on public key
infrastructure on the Web.
The final track had Case Studies from various companies. This
track also contained a demonstration of various GUI
configuration programs for Apache. There are various free and
commercial configuration systems in development currently,
some of which were demonstrated. This seems to be the start
of a more concerted effort to develop a GUI infrastructure
within Apache, which will allow multiple front-end
About a dozen companies exhibited at the trade show during
the conference (picture).
Companies present included IBM, RedHat, C2Net, Sendmail,
nCipher, SUSE and O'Reilly. This was a very explicit
demonstration of how Apache has built an associated industry,
and the exhibitors we talked to were very happy with the
quality, interest, and response of people that they met at
Meeting the Apache core
The final session was a chance to communicate with the core
Apache developers (picture).
After introducing each member, there was a short discussion
of items of interest to the developers, such as plans for
2.0. This was followed by an open session for questions from
the floor. Questions covered a range of topics, from IBM's
involvement with the Apache group (they have several people
working full time on Apache and will contribute back changes)
to a request for Apache incorporate SSL by storing it on a
server outside the US (this cannot happen because then no US
citizen could work on any part of Apache as it includes
This was the first conference about Apache, and the first
conference ever organised by the Apache Group. The result was
a very successful conference, where sponsors, exhibitors and
attendees were all happy. The success of the conference means
that there will be another ApacheCon in the future, but the
location and dates have not yet been decided. As soon as
anything is known, it will be announced in Apache Week.