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From Marc Slemko <>
Subject review of Apache
Date Wed, 30 Apr 1997 19:00:04 GMT
>From  No URL because they have an ugly annoying login

Doc #1431 if you feel like logging in.  

Cool, Apache has a Javascript API.  Snicker.  But it has a 0 month

BTW, who is (410)931-3157?  (the contact number they list)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 12:55:44 -0600 (MDT)
From: Marc Slemko <>
Subject: kvjmDuklIUtaz4Dr9HtHzFZyY8T0y,Ar4lABv,FZyYWTZZdK,hhAhiDun

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   Netscape legs out Web win
   Narrow victory highlights common threads among five popular Web
   By Joel Snyder
   Network World, 4/7/97
   Visitors to your Web site may not be able to tell what Web server
   software you're running, but you need to understand the differences
   inside and out to pick the package that's right for you.
   Though there are more similarities in the underlying code than
   differences, it's the added features that distinguish the high
   climbers from the basement dwellers.
   While the Buyer's Guide chart lists all the players and products, we
   brought the leading contenders into our labs for a closer look.
   The best server we looked at, Netscape Communications Corp.'s
   Enterprise Server, led the pack on the strength of its setup,
   management and reporting tools. StarNine Technologies, Inc.'
   Macintosh-based WebSTAR and O'Reilly and Associates, Inc.'s WebSite
   Professional also offer a comprehensive management tool kit, a full
   set of tools for the Webmaster and excellent documentation.
   Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Information Server (IIS) and The Apache
   Group's Unix-based Apache httpd server are solid products, too, but
   with less support for network manager and Webmaster. With the
   exception of WebSTAR and Apache, the products all ran on Windows NT.
   The servers we reviewed came from the top products in the Netcraft Web
   Server Survey. Netcraft periodically scans the Internet and keeps
   track of which software each server is running. We discarded
   duplicates and family members (only one server to a developer), and
   customized Internet service provider packages to come up with the five
   most popular servers. We wanted to include the next most popular
   server, Process Software's Purveyor, but Process told us Purveyor was
   undergoing revision and chose not to participate.
   During our review, Netscape, Microsoft and Apache all had beta
   products out. To keep the playing field level, we restricted our
   review to shipping products only.
  Managing Web servers
   At successful sites, a Web server may be called to service between
   100,000 and 1,000,000 transactions per day. This means good management
   tools are needed to monitor server performance, configure multiple
   servers, analyze log results and manage security.
   Likewise, Webmasters and Web application developers need a full
   package of services, extensive documentation and example applications,
   a strong server API and a rich set of built-in tools, such as
   server-interpreted HTML and access to databases - all things we looked
   for in our tests.
   Each Web server vendor takes a different approach to server
   management. For example, Microsoft's IIS is fully integrated with the
   Windows NT security architecture and authorization databases. Users
   authenticating themselves to IIS must have a user name in an NT
   domain. IIS bases all security decisions on the rights and privileges
   of that user name. NT's groups and access control lists are used to
   determine whether pages can be seen by a Web server client.
   All of the other Web servers we reviewed use a more traditional
   approach. User authentication is completely separate from the security
   domain of the system running the Web server. For example, Apache lets
   the network manager store realms, user names and passwords in simple
   text files or, when a large number of users is involved, in a
   WebSTAR, Enterprise Server and WebSite Professional have similar
   mechanisms, separate from normal server security, for maintaining
   access control to Web pages. Your individual needs will determine
   which approach is best for you.
   Management interfaces also reflect vendors' differing approaches. The
   most primitive and least usable is Apache's, which relies on a set of
   poorly documented configuration files, typically modified with a text
   editor, to tell it what to do.
   At the other end of the spectrum is Enterprise Server, which does an
   excellent job of comprehensive server management and some monitoring
   using a Web browser. WebSTAR's management interface, available via a
   separate application over an AppleTalk network or through a Web
   browser over TCP/IP, is also well designed, though WebSTAR offers
   fewer configuration options than Enterprise Server.
   IIS and WebSite Professional both are best managed via their
   Windows-based interfaces, although IIS does have a subset of
   management available via Web browsers, as well. All products can be
   managed remotely (if you consider telnet a remote management client in
   Apache's case).
  Managing, monitoring performance
   Performance management is a special subset of Web server management.
   Windows NT network managers have an automatic advantage over Macintosh
   and Unix managers in the form of the Windows Performance Monitoring
   tool. All three NT-based Web servers provide information in standard
   Performance Monitoring form, which lets network managers visually
   monitor load and throughput, and capture performance information for
   short- and long-term analysis with familiar tools.
   WebSite Professional also provides current statistics via a special
   ''stats'' URL for access via HTTP. WebSTAR managers can get an idea of
   current load using the management interfaces.
   At the high end, both Microsoft and Netscape export statistics via an
   SNMP subagent, which eases integration of Web servers into existing
   SNMP-based network monitoring systems.
   Performance optimization, such as internal disk caching, is either
   missing or undocumented in most of the servers we looked at. WebSTAR
   includes an internal disk cache, tunable by the network manager. The
   others appear to rely on the operating system for any performance
   Other Web server performance optimizations are more subtle. Except for
   Netscape's Enterprise Server, all the servers we reviewed support HTTP
   persistent connections. This is an important new feature; when it
   becomes widely available in both browsers and servers, performance
   across the Internet as a whole will increase significantly. Persistent
   connections let the client and server move multiple pages or images
   within a single TCP connection. This is key, because latency and the
   TCP three-way handshake make a page with 10 images load much more
   slowly than raw bandwidth would otherwise allow.
   Apache and Netscape also take seriously the issue of performance over
   TCP/IP. When we installed Netscape on our Windows NT system, it
   offered suggestions for increasing capacity and throughput by
   adjusting Windows Registry values for us with permission. Likewise,
   Apache maintains a comprehensive set of tips for increasing HTTP
   capacity and tuning the operating system on supported Unix platforms.
   No topic causes more stress between Webmasters and network managers
   than log files. While Webmasters revel in analyzing the demographics
   of every site visitor, network managers fear the load of managing what
   can be hundreds of megabytes of log files every week. Webmasters want
   maximum information, including the reverse Domain Naming System lookup
   of each visitor's IP address, while network managers nervously eye the
   cost of retrieving such data.
   Good Web servers automatically roll over log files at predefined
   intervals. All the servers except Apache have this capability built
   in. Microsoft's IIS also allows you to specify that log files roll
   over when they reach a predetermined size. All the servers let you
   vary log formats somewhat.
   Given all of the above, we concluded Netscape's management interface
   was the strongest and most flexible. Only a handful of features were
   not exported from the server to the Web-based management interface.
   The combination of a strong remote management capability, Windows NT
   performance monitoring and SNMP management make Enterprise Server
   truly enterprise-ready.
   If you prefer to edit configuration files (as is required in Apache),
   Netscape's server also supports that interface, with full
   documentation on how to maintain the configuration manually.
  Good deals for developers
   Webmasters have slightly different needs than network managers. They
   want servers that nurture their creativity and need easy ways to build
   effective Web sites.
   Bundled example applications help Webmasters get off to a fast start
   by giving them code to model. Servers such as WebSTAR, with more than
   100 built-in sample applications, or Netscape's Enterprise Server,
   which has dozens of examples in its AppFoundry, provide fertile ground
   for the imaginations of Webmasters to grow new applications and modify
   existing ones.
   O'Reilly doesn't offer the same broad Webmaster's kit but makes up for
   it with outstanding developer documentation. These vendors have made
   it easy for developers to get a good start.
   Apache, which has a small but respectable kit of sample applications,
   doesn't measure up to the others because it lacks good documentation.
   Apache has many of the same built-in features but little definitive
   documentation, so it's much harder to figure out how to use them. This
   makes Apache a high-overhead product: free to acquire, but expensive
   when you want to push the boundaries.
   In contrast, Microsoft, which has almost no developer's tool box,
   pushes undocumented and proprietary FrontPage extensions, which are
   designed to lock developers into an all-Microsoft world. FrontPage
   users have the benefit of an integrated development environment that
   links to powerful server extensions. But server managers who want
   documentation on the interaction between FrontPage clients and servers
   are out of luck.
   When sample code is insufficient to illuminate a task, Webmasters must
   become software developers, using the generic Common Gateway Interface
   (CGI) or a server-specific API. All of the servers we tested support
   the same basic CGI interface, and a simple CGI program we wrote in C
   to display HTTP headers ran almost without change on all five servers.
   For best performance, though, Web site developers are pushed into
   using a server-specific API. While faster, this is also much riskier.
   Because API-based applications are tightly integrated with the server,
   a bug in the developer's code could take the entire server down.
   WebSite Professional includes so-called FaultGuard technology, which
   provides some help by isolating API modules and using built-in Win32
   features to catch some kinds of errors before catastrophe strikes.
   All five servers offer their own APIs, but Apache, Microsoft, and
   O'Reilly are all heavily influenced by Netscape's pioneering work in
   developing Netscape API. O'Reilly's WebSite Professional also includes
   a subset of the Microsoft server API, so some applications written to
   Microsoft's Internet Server API will run unchanged on O'Reilly's
   server. The one real oddball is WebSTAR's W*API, which offers similar
   features but is based on an entirely different architecture.
   We found it was easiest to write simple programs for Enterprise
   Server, mostly because Netscape's documentation was the easiest to
   understand and the best laid out. Also, Netscape doesn't require
   programmers to know too many details about the operating system
   Although APIs and CGI scripts are crucial to high-end Webmasters,
   sometimes programming is not necessary. See Network World Fusion for a
   discussion of each of the products' techniques for ''programming
   without programs.''
   To go along with the nonprogramming features, good Web servers should
   have built-in support for full-text searches of all HTML files on the
   site. Microsoft, Netscape and O'Reilly all match this need with speedy
   search engines.
   Netscape does an excellent job, offering a full-text search engine and
   something it calls a catalog engine, which offers different views of a
   Web site by title, classification, author and modification date. These
   are included in the features of the basic Enterprise Server.
   Netscape's approach is particularly elegant because it includes the
   ability to automatically reindex and recatalog a site at regular
   intervals, assuring an up-to-date index at all times.
   WebSite Professional also has a full-text indexer in its Webindex and
   Webfind tools, while Microsoft brings indexing to the Webmaster with
   the free Index Server add-on to IIS. Although Microsoft's Index Server
   has capabilities Netscape's doesn't - for example, it can index
   Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, should you want to do such a thing -
   having to manage two different applications seems an unnecessary
   burden on the Webmaster.
  Bottom line
   Taking the needs of both Webmasters and network managers into account,
   Netscape gets the nod as best all around. Approachable in small sites,
   Enterprise Server also brings the kind of management tool kit and
   Webmaster support that large servers need. The ease of moving between
   Windows NT and Unix platforms is a plus, too.
   For smaller sites, Webmasters will love WebSite Professional.
   Outstanding documentation, reasonable pricing and a long list of
   features make it an excellent choice when the Webmaster is also the
   network manager.
   WebSTAR is a well-engineered Web server, but it is also tied to the
   Macintosh platform. In many MIS departments, religious beliefs dictate
   that a Macintosh cannot serve as a corporate Web server. We disagree,
   but WebSTAR's Macintosh roots are destined to hold it back.
   Microsoft's IIS fundamentally is a good product and offers some
   features no other server does, such as integration with the NT
   security domain. However, it's not as manageable as Enterprise Server
   and not as well documented as WebSite Professional. Its best role is
   probably as an intranet server rather than a large-scale Internet
   Apache's success is hard to argue with: More than 400,000 Web servers
   are happily running using Apache. And many Webmasters and network
   managers have customized their Apache servers, which its relatively
   clean architecture encourages. Nevertheless, if you're willing to
   spend some money and don't think that access to the source code of the
   server is of paramount importance, other servers can meet or beat
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                                 more info:
   Buyer's Guide - What to look for and detailed product info on servers
                              from 19 vendors.
        More than a Web server - Brief comparison of Netscape's and
                         Microsoft's server suites.
   Programming without programs - How the vendors stack up when it comes
                       to apps for building Web apps.
                         Netcraft Web Server Survey
      Snyder, a senior partner at Opus One in Tucson, Ariz., has been
     helping companies build bigger, stronger, faster and more reliable
        networks for 16 years. He can be reached at jms
                               How we did it:
     We set up 14 tasks for each server based on feedback we got from a
     team of Webmasters and network managers. We asked which tasks they
   most commonly perform with their Web servers, and they told us writing
        Common Gateway Interface programs, connecting to databases,
   preprocessing URLs to handle pages that moved, building special error
      message pages and other developer tasks. We also tested typical
    manager tasks, including starting and stopping the server remotely,
   configuring additional Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extension types and
                            managing log files.

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