Networking: A Beginner's Guide
ne of the most popular web server applications is the Apache web server,
a free program that runs under a variety of operating systems, including
Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, and NetWare. The Apache web server is
a robust, proven platform on which to host a web site. The fact that it is open source
and available for free, running on the UNIX-like operating system Linux, which is
also often available for free, is a huge plus, and no doubt helps drive its continuing
This chapter introduces the Apache web server. You learn the basics that you need
to install it, find web-based resources to support it, and set up a basic web site on a
Fedora Linux system.
Overview of Apache Web Server
The Apache web server started out as a small development at the National Center for
Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in the early 1990s. Beginning as a very simple
UNIX daemon (pronounced the same as "demon"), it was initially programmed by
Rob McCool. McCool left NCSA in 1994, and the project began to be extended by a
number of different programmers, some of whom added packages (modules) to the core
program to enable it to support new web technologies. In those days, the web server
was referred to as "patchy," because it kept getting new patches to correct problems or
extend functionality. Eventually, it came to be called the Apache web server.
Version 1.0 of the Apache web server was released to the public at the end of 1995,
and by 1996 was the most popular web server on the Internet. The latest statistics at the
time this chapter was written (available from http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_
server_survey.html) reveal that Apache is being used to host approximately 50 percent
(more than 113 million web sites) of the active web sites on the Internet. Microsoft's IIS
is in second place, with around 25 percent (about 56 million web sites).
The Apache HTTP Server project is presently coordinated through the Apache
Apache is unlike most other server applications in that it is not a graphical program
(despite the fact that its main purpose is to serve up graphical web pages) and has
no graphical installation routine. Instead, Apache runs as a background process, or
daemon, on the operating system, which is typically called httpd (Hypertext Transfer
Protocol daemon). The management of an Apache web server is handled by editing its
text-based configuration files, and by stopping and starting the daemon to cause any
changes to those configuration files to take effect.
The fact that Apache is text-based and is administered through a command-line
interface should not daunt you. It is straightforward to install and administer an
Apache web server, and you should have no trouble doing so. In fact, if you followed
the Fedora Linux installation instructions in Chapter 20, you already have Apache
installed on that computer, and you just need to activate it (it is not turned on by
default in a Fedora installation), as described in the next section.