Apache Week
Issue 200, 26thMay2000:

Copyright 2020 Red Hat, Inc

In this issue

Apache Week 200 giveaway

It's our 200th edition and as we mentioned last week, our colleagues at Wrox Press have given us five copies of their book "Professional Apache" to give away to help us celebrate.

Written by Apache Week reader and space tourism evangelist Peter Wainwright, the book covers all aspects of serving web sites using the Apache web server - from starting and stopping the server to installing PHP and using server-side scripts. For your chance to get your hands on one of the copies that we haven't kept for ourselves, answer this simple question:

Which one of the following is not an Apache developer?
A) Dean Gaudet, B) Ken Coar, or C) Bill Gates

Send your answer to oddone@apacheweek.com to reach us no later than June 1st 2000. If you win, we will need to inform you so please do not forget to provide a valid e-mail address. The address you give us will not be used for anything other than to let you know if you won. Five winners will be drawn at random from all correct entries submitted, one entry per person, no cash alternative, editors' decision is final, so there.

That's not all. We've kept a copy for ourselves and in the next few weeks will be taking an in-depth look at the book so those of you not lucky enough to get your hands on a free copy can rush out and buy your own. An excerpt from the book - to give you a taster - is available from Wrox Press.

What the Web Server Surveys Reveal

ApacheWeek has often reported on the success of the Apache Web Server as shown by the E-Soft Web Server and Netcraft surveys, and how they have consistently shown Apache to be the most popular and more widely deployed server than all the others combined.

In this 200th issue of ApacheWeek, we look behind the headline figures of those surveys with an in-depth analysis of which Apache versions are being used and how long it takes the Apache community to adopt new releases.

Although both surveys show the total number of sites using Apache, the E-Soft survey figures also reveal some interesting facts about which versions of Apache are in use, and that take up of newer releases is not immediate. Plotting the number of sites using 1.3.x versions month for month from release date indicates migration from older versions is slow. As a percentage of Apache powered sites, in the case of almost all versions, their use continues to remain constant for a few months even after a new release. Take into account the number of sites using Apache is increasing every month; and the actual number of sites using older releases continues to rise for anything up to three months after a new release becomes available.

Graph 1: Individual release take up

It wasn't until April this year, with Apache 1.3.9 released 9 months earlier, that the use of a single 1.3 version exceeded that of older 1.1 and 1.2 versions. Even today, only 6% of sites are using the most recent release, 1.3.12, and over 25% of sites are still powered by older Apache versions from the 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 generations.

Graph 2: Apache releases in use, May 2000

One of the most interesting findings from the survey is to see how new releases may influence the take-up of Apache as a server. Looking at the monthly increase in the number of sites powered by the server, some of the largest rises follow particular release dates.

The month following the release of Apache 1.3.3 (released on October 9 1998) saw one of the highest monthly increases in use. Apache 1.3.3 was a minor upgrade to Apache 1.3.2, but fixed one quite important problem; various error responses, such as "404 Not Found" displayed the full path to the missing file. Other problem fixes included the spelling module - which in 1.3.2 did not return the list of possible matches when more than one file is similar to the requested URL - and a problem where missing .htaccess files could result in a "Forbidden" response. Some platform specific bug fixes - including the Windows zombie processes problem - were also fixed.

Graph 3: Monthly increase in sites powered by Apache

Apache 1.3.12, the most current version, has also seen a huge increase in use in the month following its release. This addressed security issues raised by a CERT advisory on cross-site scripting which wasn't specific to Apache and had wide reaching consequences for anyone who uses or writes scripts for web servers. Patches were quickly made available for the previous version (1.3.11) followed shortly afterwards with the release of 1.3.12 at the end of February. Once again, it was shown that the contributors to open source projects can respond as efficiently as commercial developers to major security issues.

The surveys can't tell us whether the increases are attributable to upgraders or new adopters, and it is purely speculative as to whether the rapid provision of a security fix to a problem contributed to the migration from other servers to Apache. However, the E-Soft Survey shows there was an increase of 76,000 sites using Apache in March 2000, and 36,000 sites using 1.3.12.

What can not be disputed is the phenomenal success of the Apache web server, now with a share of the server software market that commercial vendors only dream of. Whichever version is in use, it's all part of the ever-growing Apache community which Apache Week will continue to support.