Apache 2.0

Reuven discusses the significance of the 2.0 release for web developers, administrators and the Open Source community.
Configuring and Installing Apache

Retrieve the latest source code from httpd.apache.org/dist/httpd; the latest version as of this writing is 2.0.35. Unpack the source code in a temporary directory:

cd /tmp
tar zxvf httpd-2.0.35.tar.gz

You may now run the configure program with one or more arguments. These arguments fall into roughly four categories: 1) Into which directories should Apache be installed? 2) Which MPM do you want to use? 3) Under which user ID should CGI programs execute? 4) Which modules do you want to install? And of those, which should be installed dynamically (using shared libraries) rather than statically?

You can get a full list of configuration options by typing ./configure --help. This is particularly true if you want to include a module that isn't included by default. The biggest change in configuration is that modules now have their own options to activate them. For the simplest possible configuration that uses the “worker” MPM, type:

./configure --with-mpm=worker

Following this, run make, followed by make install. (There is no make test for Apache as of the time of this writing.) By default, Apache 2.0 is installed into /usr/local/apache2. You can start it using the same program as Apache 1.x, apachectl, which is normally in /usr/local/apache2/bin/:

/usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl start
The server will soon start up. HTML documents will normally be kept in /usr/local/apache2/htdocs, so you should already be able to put HTML documents there and view them.

Apache's runtime configuration remains dependent on a text file, normally called httpd.conf. If you are familiar with Apache 1.x, then you will be happy to know that almost all of the existing directives will continue to work. The main directives that you will have to learn are those that pertain to threading, assuming that you use the worker or perchild MPMs.

Should I Switch?

When the Apache Software Foundation announced Apache 2.0, the announcement explicitly said that the new version is the most stable and recommended version for production use. And for the most part, I believe them; www.apache.org receives many more requests per day than my server, and they have been running Apache 2.0 beta versions for over a year. Thus, it's safe to say that Apache 2.0 is stable enough for most sites to use.

The main reason to avoid switching to Apache 2.0 at this point is if you need mod_perl or PHP; they are currently still in testing but will probably be available by the time you read this.

As I mentioned above, however, it's hard to get threading right, and this is particularly true in Perl, which has experimented with a number of threading models in the last few years. If you have compiled Perl with ithreads, then you can use it to create a mod_perl for Apache 2.0 that uses the worker or perchild MPMs. But just how stable this configuration will be remains to be seen; it may well be that mod_perl users will choose to stick with the prefork MPM for now, until the dust settles a bit.

Conclusion

Apache 2.0 comes with more of everything that a web developer would want—more modules, more flexibility and greater speed. If you haven't yet tried Apache 2.0, I encourage you to download it and test it with your site's configuration to verify that it will be a good choice.

Resources

email: reuven@lerner.co.il

Reuven M. Lerner is a consultant specializing in web/database applications and open-source software. His book, Core Perl, was published in January 2002 by Prentice Hall.

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