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Subject Re: Embedding perl in the HTTP server (fwd)
Date Mon, 25 Mar 1996 17:09:36 GMT
	This is quite cool. Yet another bit of ammunition to get my
old project at SGI to move to apache. ;-)

> Looks interesting...
> Mark
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Mon, 25 Mar 1996 14:57:22 +0100
> From: Gisle Aas <>
> To:
> Subject: Embedding perl in the HTTP server
> This weekend I have been playing with an Apache module that embeds a perl
> interpreter in the HTTP server.  The benefit of this is that we are able to
> run scripts without going through the expensive (fork/exec/parameter
> passing/parsing, etc.) CGI interface.  The scripts will run faster and they
> have direct access to the complete C API of the server.
> My current approach is that I will allocate and construct a new perl for
> each request.  The interpreter will then parse and run a perl script and we
> finally destruct the perl interpreter in order to free memory consumed.  The
> script must call the Apache API to send data back to the client.  Printing
> (to STDOUT) from the perl script goes to the server's STDOUT, not back to
> the client.  A simple apache perl script will look like this:
>     Apache->bootstrap; @request_recPtr::ISA = 'Apache';  # Some magic
>     $req->set_content_type("text/html");
>     $req->send_http_header;
>     $req->write_client_block("<h1>This is a stupid test</h1>\n");
> This does the same as the following CGI script:
>     #!/local/bin/perl
>     print "Content-Type: text/html\n\n";
>     print "<h1>This is a stupid test</h1>\n";
> All the normal input parameters are available as perl variables before the
> script starts up.  These variables are present when the script starts:
>    $req              The request object reference
>    $method           GET, POST, HEAD,...
>    $protocol         HTTP/1.0
>    $uri
>    $path_info
>    %headers_in       Addition headers present in the request
>    $args             The QUERY_STRING
>    @args             Parsed and unescaped QUERY_STRING (key, value) pairs
> The module (like the CGI perl modules) will transparently read the POST
> 'application/x-www-form-urlencoded' content and pass it on as $args/@args so
> that the perl script does not have to.
> The script can trigger errors by exit'ing with a HTTP status code (the perl
> exit value is used as return value from the apache handler).
>    exit 403;  # Forbidden
> Complete API listing:
>    # Control headers
>    $req->set_content_type("text/plain");
>    $req->set_content_encoding("gzip");
>    $req->set_content_language("en");
>    $req->set_status(200);
>    $req->set_status_line("Howdy");
>    $req->set_header_out("WWW-Authenticate", "Basic");
>    $req->set_err_headers_out("WWW-Authenticate", "Basic");
>    $req->set_no_cache(0);
>    $req->send_http_header;  # actually start a reply
>    # Talk to the client
>    $req->read_client_block($buf, $size);
>    $req->write_client_block($buf);
>    $req->send_fd(FILE);    # just send the whole thing file
>    ## The server error log
>    $req->log_reason("Because I felt like it", __FILE__);
>    $req->log_error("Some text that goes in the error_log");
> I even tried to benchmark how well this new embedded interpreter performs.
> These are the results using those simple scripts shows above (which just
> outputs <h1>This is a stupid test</h1>).
>                             test.html   test.cgi
> Apache/1.0.3                  0.164s     0.531s    0.170s
> NCSA/1.4.2                    0.165s     0.243s
> Netscape-Communications/1.1   0.107s     0.273s
> The times are average response time per request after several runs of the
> script below.  The httpd servers was running on a Sparc4 workstation.  As
> you can see the embedded perl performs quite well.  It is almost as quick
> as just sending a static file (but then there is not much perl parsing
> going on).
> The test also shows that the Apache server does a very bad job at invoking
> CGI scripts.  I was surprised to find that it was sooo much slower than NCSA
> or Netscape.  I believed that Apache should be faster since this is what
> they said at <URL:>: "is much faster than
> NCSA 1.3, more efficient and faster than 1.4/1.5 too."  Does anybody else
> has any experience on this matter?
> The client test script I used was this one:
>   #!/local/perl/bin/perl -w
>   use LWP::Simple;
>   for (1..100) {
>       $a = get "";
>       print $a;
>   }
> Speeding it up even more: The perl compiler will hopefully be of help when
> it comes along.  Another approach is to let the embedded perl interpreter
> load the scripts initially and then we just call a perl subroutine to
> handle the requests.  This should be very fast, but I don't know how we
> could manage to free the memory consumed during execution of the request.
> If you want to take a look, then the new Apache module should be available
> from this address (please don't mirror or publicise widely because this is
> just a proof-on-concept implementation):
> You will need perl5.002 and apache1.0.3 to get this up and running.
> I would like to get some feedback on this module, its interface and perhaps
> ways to make this run even faster?  Do you know about similar stuff?
> Regards,
> Gisle

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