Yesterday, the Apache HTTP Server officially celebrated its 15th birthday, even though the „date of birth“ has been chosen somewhat randomly, according to this (German) Heise Online article ;). I am happy that I have shared most of its life; my first Apache installation dates back to 1997. Since then, the „Native American“ has been a good companion in all business and private projects. Although I have tried alternatives like Tomcat (from the Apache Software Foundation as well), lighttpd, Zeus, or even IIS, I have never had the urge to use anything else than Apache httpd in production.
What many administrators and developers like particularly about Apache, even after all those years, is its unmatched stability as well as its flexibility — beside the numerous (now dynamically loadable) modules that are delivered with the server, there is an even larger number of third-party modules that expand Apache beyond its core competence (which is, of course, its high-capacity and RFC-compliant delivery of websites): Programming web applications in dozens of different languages, authentication against virtually every database or service, security extensions, and many more.
In 2004, the first edition of my (German) textbook about this unusual piece of open source software was published. Although version 1.3 — that even now does not seem to vanish completely — still had a considerable market share, I decided — with the publisher’s consent — to concentrate on the new and extremely improved version 2.0. Writing the book was of course an ideal way to intensify my Apache knowledge, because every solution presented in it had to be practically tested and optimized. About one year ago, the third edition was published, now fully concentrating on the still current version 2.2.In a few months, version 2.4 (which is still 2.3-alpha) will be published; while in version 2.2, the authentication modules were extended and improved, the next version will especially feature a rework of the authentication — the well-known Order/Allow/Deny directives will be given up for good and be replaced by more flexible solutions. Despite of growing competition, it is still fun to use Apache, and I’m looking forward to seeing another 15 years with my favorite Indian.