The "Apache Desktop Reference" by Ralf S. Engelschall, published by
Addison Wesley is a concise and complete quick reference meant for web
server administrators who are already familiar with Apache. However
newbies can also use it as a companion to the numerous Apache "text" books
available in the market.
Ralf, a member of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), is well known as
the author of mod_rewrite and
mod_ssl. In his foreword, Roy T. Fielding, chairman of
the board of directors of ASF commended that this book provides a level of
insight regarding the inner-workings of Apache that you won't find in a
typical user manual.
A glance through the contents reveals that there are six chapters in
total. Chapter 1 introduces the Apache web server by covering the history
of the Internet, Hypertext, the World Wide Web, and the Apache Group. Next
it explains about the Apache architecture, the functionality of the Apache
kernel and each of the standard module plus two important third-party
modules - mod_ssl and
mod_perl. Throughout the book, it continues to include
these two extra modules.
Then chapter 3 guides you through a step-by-step example on how to build
and install a SSL-enabled Apache with mod_perl from
source. The interesting extra bits here are the complete reference to the
AutoConf-style Interface (APACI) command line with highlights on the
suEXEC, "--permute-module" and "--shadow" options, and the difference
methods on adding third-party modules.
The bulk of its content covering all of the Apache configuration
directives is in chapter 4. Following that, chapter 5 is all about
starting Apache using either the httpd command line or the
apachectl script. Finally the book concludes by listing
selected online Apache resources and books for references.
To get the most out of this book, Ralf suggests two approaches when
reading this book. He groups the readers under two categories - expert
users and those who have just encountered Apache. Chapter 1 and the first
section of chapter 4 where it explains about the Apache configuration file
structure are must-reads for all users. The latter group should also read
chapter 2 and 3. The rest of the chapters can be skimmed through and
referred to on a need-to-read basis.
For the errata, and other information about this book, you may refer to
its companion website. I vouch for
this book and dare to confidently say that no matter how many Apache books
you currently own, it is worth adding this book to your collection. Even
the Apache experts may learn something extra from it. As it only covers
Apache 1.3.x, we hope that Ralf will come out with a revised version for
Apache 2.x in the near future.