Roxen WebServer 2.2
The Roxen WebServer, from the Swedish company Roxen Internet Software, is a viable alternative for those who find Apache inappropriate for their needs. Although Apache dominates the internet web server market, it has some weak points: it lacks a built-in SQL database backend, flexible administration tools and easy SSL certificate management. All of these features can be found, however, in the Roxen WebServer. In fact, Roxen includes so many additional features that it seems more like an application server than an ordinary web server.
Best of all is that the Roxen WebServer is open-source software covered by the GPL license, and it is free for both personal and commercial purposes. In addition, Roxen Internet Software offers service-support contracts, training and consulting services for those who need commercial assistance.
Roxen WebServer 2.2 is available as a free download for many platforms: FreeBSD 4.0, HPUX 11, Linux (libc6), Solaris 7 SPARC, Solaris 7 x86, Windows NT 4.0, Mac OS X and Darwin (PowerPC version). Source code is also available should you prefer to compile it yourself. First of all, you need to remember that two versions of the Roxen WebServer are available for download. One has LZW algorithm support that is able to encode and decode the GIF and TIFF image formats, and the other version does not. (The LZW algorithm is patented by Unisys in the US and Canada but not in Europe). Regardless of LZW support, both Roxen versions include 128-bit encryption algorithms, and it can be imported legally from Sweden because, starting July 1, 2001, the export of strong cryptography from Sweden is allowed to all countries currently connected to the Internet. I tested the Roxen WebServer on Red Hat 6.2, my preferred Linux distribution for servers.
Roxen comes in one big file as a self-extracting shell script, and it installs quickly and easily. The installer asks for basic information, such as the installation directory, the server name and the password for administrative interface. It also searches for the Java 2 SDK installation and Informix, Oracle or Sybase servers. In fact, Roxen WebServer consists of three main parts, the web server itself, the Pike scripting language interpreter and a wrapped MySQL server. You can start Roxen manually (using the start script inside the installation directory). If you want to start it automatically during system bootup, then you'll need to copy the init.d_roxen script from'/roxen/server/tools (in Roxen's installation directory) to /etc/rc.d/init.d. Don't forget to make the appropriate symbolic links to runlevel directories. We are now ready to play with the Roxen web interface.
Roxen's main advantage over Apache (and others) is it features an integrated management interface that is tightly integrated into web server itself. This interface can be accessed from any web browser. As you can see from the figures, the administrative interface is really impressive--powerful and well designed. I would like to see something similar available for Apache. On the other hand, using the administrative interface is the only way to control your server. The whole configuration is stored in text files, but it is hard to edit them by hand because they are encoded by XML. This is one reason why Apache administrators may find it hard to manage Roxen from the web browser.
If you want use this interface you need to log on using the administrator's username and password (defined during installation) on http://yourserver:13123--the default TCP port for communication with Roxen WebServer--you will be able to change it later. Remember that this connection isn't secured in any way. Administrative interfaces should use the SSL secure connection (HTTPS). However, you will need to create certificates and configure it yourself.
The web interface is split into many tabs, each covering a specific subset of server administration features. There are five main tabs for administrative tasks:
Admin - administrative settings like passwords and login names,
Sites - managing virtual sites (here you can configure modules for each virtual site),
Globals - global settings for Roxen WebServer,
Tasks - configuring a basic webserver tasks,
DBs - internal MySQL database management and
Docs - Roxen documentation
Each of these tabs splits into a few other sections that are logically categorized. Most configuration settings include links to appropriate help topics. It is good to remember that, by default, the Roxen WebServer sends all of its pages encoded in UTF 8, a common Unicode encoding that makes the pages easy to transfer to the Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese or Korean languages. Of course, you can switch the setting to the ISO encoding standard.
The first step in configuring a new server is to create a test virtual site. Remember that you can create many administrative users and give them limited privileges for administering selected virtual sites or the entire Roxen WebServer itself.
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