Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Web Servers for Use with Ubuntu

To determine the best web server for your use, consider the needs of the website you manage. Does it need heavy security (for e-commerce), multimedia (music, video, and pictures), or the capability to download files easily? How much are you willing to spend for the software? Do you need software that is easy to maintain and troubleshoot or that includes tech support? The answers to these questions might steer you to something other than Apache.

Apache Web Server
Apache is the most widely used web server on the Internet today, according to a Netcraft survey of active websites in June 2007. Note that these statistics do not reflect Apache’s use on internal networks, known as intranets. The name Apache appeared during the early development of the software because it was “a patchy” server, made up of patches for the freely available source code of the NCSA HTTPd web server. For a while after the NCSA HTTPd project was discontinued, a number of people wrote a variety of patches for the code, to either fix bugs or add features they wanted. A lot of this code was floating around and people were freely sharing it, but it was completely unmanaged. After a while, Brian Behlendorf and Cliff Skolnick set up a centralized repository of these patches, and the Apache project was born. The project is still composed of a small core group of programmers, but anyone is welcome to submit patches to the group for possible inclusion in the code.

There has been a surge of interest in the Apache project over the past several years, partially buoyed by a new interest in open source on the part of enterprise-level information services. It’s also due in part to crippling security flaws found in Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS); the existence of malicious web task exploits; and operating system and networking vulnerabilities to the now-infamous Code Red, Blaster, and Nimda worms. IBM made an early commitment to support and use Apache as the basis for its web offerings and has dedicated substantial resources to the project because it makes more sense to use an established, proven web server.

In mid-1999, The Apache Software Foundation was incorporated as a nonprofit company. A board of directors, who are elected on an annual basis by the ASF members, oversees the company. This company provides a foundation for several open-source software development projects, including the Apache Web Server project. The best places to find out about Apache are the Apache Group’s website,, and the Apache Week website,, where you can subscribe to receive Apache Week by email to keep up on the latest developments in the project, keep abreast of security advisories, and research bug fixes.

Ubuntu ships with Apache 2, and the server (named apache2). You can obtain the latest version of Apache as a package file from an Ubuntu FTP server, through Synaptic, or by getting the source code from the Apache website and, in true Linux tradition, build it for yourself. To determine the version of Apache included with your system, use the web server’s –V command-line option like this:

$ /usr/sbin/apache2 -V
Server version: Apache/2.0.50
Server built: Jun 29 2004 11:11:55
Server’s Module Magic Number: 20020903:8
Architecture: 32-bit
Server compiled with....

The output displays the version number, build date and time, platform, and various options used during the build. You can use the -v option to see terser version information.

Sun ONE Web Server
Despite the Netcraft numbers shown previously in, there is evidence that the Sun Java System Web Server (formerly known as the iPlanet Web Server, and subsequently Sun ONE Web Server) might be even more popular than Apache in strictly corporate arenas. The server got its start as the Netscape Enterprise Server—one of the first powerful web servers ever to hit the market. Sun ONE Web Server comes in many flavors, and all of them are big. In addition to the enterprise-level web server that can be run on Ubuntu, the software features application, messaging, calendar, and directory servers—just to name a few. Sun ONE Web Server is great for handling big web needs, and it comes with an appropriately big price tag. It’s definitely not something to run the school website—unless your school happens to be a major state university with several regional campuses. For more information on Sun Java System Web Server, you can visit its website (

Zope is another open-source web server. Although it is still relatively young and might not have as much flexibility as Apache, it is making strong inroads in the web server market. What makes Zope different from Apache is the fact that it is managed through a completely web-based graphic interface. This has broad appeal for those who are not enthused about a command-line–only interface. Zope is a product of the Zope Corporation (formerly Digital Creations), the same firm that made the Python programming language. And, like all things open source, it is free. Information on Zope can be found at both (for the commercial version) and (for the open-source version).

Zeus Web Server
Ubuntu sites can also use the Zeus Web Server from Zeus Technology. This server offers a scalable SSL implementation, security settings across multiple websites, and an online administration server. The current price is $1,700 for a host platform with up to two CPUs, but load balancing via the Zeus Load Balancer costs $12,000 (at the time of writing) for each pair of load-balancing computers. You can get more information about the Zeus Web Server at

Source of Information : Sams Ubuntu Unleashed 2008 Edition

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