In this issue
Apache Week has moved to a new home, at http://www.apacheweek.com/.
If you have any links or bookmarks to the old addresses,
please update them now. Apache Week is still produced by UK
Web, but this new domain will make us easier to find.
This issue also marks six months of Apache Week. We have
taken the opportunity to re-arrange the site. You will now
find links to past feature articles, and a collection of
'hints-and-tips' for anyone running an Apache server.
As always, Apache Week remains committed to bringing you the
latest Apache news first. Each week we will report on what is
happening in Apache software development, and we will list
and explain bugs found in the released versions. But we will
also be extending our news coverage to other issues of key
importance to anyone running Web services. This week, for
instance, we report on how Netscape and Microsoft are trying
to hold the high ground on support of open standards.
The August Netcraft Server
Survey shows that 36% of all surveyed servers run Apache.
While this survey cannot reach internal (firewalled or
Intranet) servers, it shows how Apache's share of public
servers has consistently increased over the past year. At the
same time, Windows NT based servers have also grown, with
Microsoft's IIS server now at 5.5%.
Apache has even got the attention of Microsoft chairman Bill
Gates. At a recent meeting with financial Analysts, he stated
that in the server marketplace "Apache is our biggest
competitor. It's gaining share faster than Netscape." (See
Bugs in 1.1.1:
HP UX Compiler errors and warnings.
A couple of file descriptor bugs (one of which can cause
SEGV crashes on Linux).
Various proxy module bugs.
Bug in the SCRIPT_NAME passed to CGI where the ScriptAlias
directory included some PATH_INFO.
The following items are under development for the next
release of Apache.
Limiting access by individual files
The <File> section directive joins <Location> and
<Directory> in the next Apache release. While
<Location> matches on the requested URL, and
<Directory> matches whole directories on paths,
<File> can be used to match individual files.
<Location> could be used to do this, but this can only
be used in the central access.conf file. <File> can be
used in .htaccess files, and can given filenames relative to
the directory containing the .htaccess file. So, for example,
it would be possible to password protect an individual file.
A regular-expression parser will come with new versions of
Apache. The paths, directories and URLs specified in
<Directory>, <Location> and <File> sections
can be specified as regular expressions, as well as plain
text. This will allow much more flexibility in assigning
restrictions to files and requests.
Stopping Runaway Processes
Apache will include facilities to limit the resources taken
up by CGI programs or other sub-programs run from the server.
This can be used to prevent CGIs and other programs eating up
too many resources on a system. For example, it will be
possible to limit the amount of CPU time or virtual memory
taken by a sub-process.
Some browsers running on Windows 95 have problems using
Keep-Alives. In particular, Netscape version 2 and early
betas of 3 tend to 'hang' after the first file has been
delivered. The work-around is for Apache to automatically
detect if it is talking to a buggy client, and if so it will
not use the persistent connection features.
Speeding up Persistent Connections
A recent report found speed problems with persistent
connections (see Apache Week
issue 23). The next release will include one of the
recommendations from this report. Specifically, it will
attempt to disable the 'Nagle' algorithm on the connection.
This normally causes a delay sending the last bit of a
response, and is intended to increase effiency in some
protocols, such as telnet. However, for HTTP it is better
Another beta release of the Apache perl module is
available. It is now closer to being transparent for perl
authors, so existing CGIs will work with less changes.
Extra Functionality for the Cookies Module
At present, whenever the cookies module is compiled in it
always generates cookies. These are used to create a log
which can be analyzed to track individual users. However
there are some cases where it might not be desirable for the
server to always generate cookies - for example, in a
customer's virtual host. A new directive
CookieEnable has been developed to allow the
generation of cookies to be turned on or off.
In addition, when the server generates cookies they have no
expiry. Some sites might prefer to expire cookies, so another
new directive CookiesExpire lets the administrator
specify how long the cookies are valid before they expire.
This can prevent any confusion of the user tracking log
caused by people who leave their browser running all the
Browser and server developers Microsoft and
Netscape are both pushing different standards for interacting
between embedded applications on the Web. Meanwhile Sun
continues to develop the Java environment.
There are a growing number of ways of adding interactivity to
updated their OLE technology for the Internet, and called it
This provides a linking mechanism between different
components on a machine, which lets the Internet Explorer
browser use native embedded applications (called
controls in Windows). ActiveX is based on Microsoft's
proprietary linking and component object technologies (OLE
and COM) standards.
Microsoft frees ActiveX standard
announced that they would place the ActiveX standards,
along with related standards COM and DCOM, in the care of a
group of third-party developers and customers. This is the
latest stage in the battle between Microsoft and Netscape who are both
trying to show that they respect vendor-independent
standards. Last month, Microsoft announced their 'pledge'
on HTML standards, and Netscape have regularly
stated their commitment to the open standards process.
Netscape developer environment emphasizes Open Standards
Meanwhile, Netscape have released details of their
development environment Open
Network Environment (ONE). This is a collection of
standards and technologies to create Web objects and
facilitate linking these objects together. By putting all the
development tools and standards together, Netscape seems to
be attempting to head off the growth of ActiveX (which is
not included in Netscape ONE).
Microsoft, Netscape and Sun push different technologies
There are now several different ways of creating interactive
and enhanced Web content. Java can be used to create
platform-independent programs (or applets) for running
inside compatible browsers, while ActiveX lets the browser
access platform-specific controls and scripts (e.g. Visual
Basic), as well as Java.
In addition, there are various methods for linking these
different objects together. While Microsoft are
pushing ActiveX, Sun's JavaSoft has been developing a linking
environment called JavaBeans. And
Netscape have developed their own object connectivity, called
LiveConnect, which is in turn based on a open standard for
objects called CORBA. Most of
these environments will inter-operate with the others.
Of course, Apache can serve up any sort of content, whether
it is HTML, Java, Visual Basic, ActiveX or any other format.
But these different standards can make it difficult for
content providers to know what type of content to use.
WebSmith magazine has an article on Programming
with the Apache API.