TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Nov 99 Online

Volume Number: 15 (1999)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: MacTech Online

MacTech Online

by Jeff Clites <online@mactech.com>

Apache, Of Course

Over the past several months we've touched on a variety of software packages which originated within the open-source and Unix communities, but which are poised to become important to the Macintosh with the advent of the Unix-based Mac OS X family. But we haven't yet covered one of the most important pieces - Apache. Despite all of the press which Linux gets, the Apache web server is probably the most successful open-source project of all time. To quote the famous statistic (from the Netcraft Web Server Survey), it serves over 55% of the sites on the internet, which according to the Apache FAQ amounts to over 3 million servers.

The Apache Software Foundation
http://apache.org/
The Netcraft Web Server Survey
http://www.netcraft.com/survey/
The Apache Server FAQ
http://apache.org/docs/misc/FAQ.html

On the face of it, there isn't much to talk about-Apache comes preinstalled with Mac OS X Server, and it just works; you don't have to port, compile, install, or really even configure it. If you are only interested in serving static HTML pages or WebObjects applications, you barely have to lift a finger. But if you want to go further and write modules for your web server's plug-in API, or take advantage of the availability of its source code, then the fun begins.

Using Apache

As your first step in going beyond the basics, you'll probably want some general information on running and administering Apache. The best place to start is Apache's online user manual, of course. For those who prefer printed material, O'Reilly and Associates has published Apache: The Definitive Guide (ISBN 1-56592-528-9), and there's even a sample chapter (on security) on their web site. If you prefer a more nuts-and-bolts reference, the Apache Server Administrator's Handbook (ISBN 0-7645-3306-1) looks promising. For those interested in diving into Apache's source code, check out Apache Server Commentary: Guide to Insider's Knowledge on Apache Server Code (ISBN 1-57610-468-0), which explains the innards in great detail.

Apache User's Guide
http://apache.org/docs/
Apache: The Definitive Guide
http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/apache2/

A great source for ongoing information is the Apache Week ezine, published every Friday. Recent issues have covered a variety of useful topics, notably an heads-up on what's coming in Apache 2.0 (and why a 2.0 version is needed at all), and an introduction to HTTP/1.1. And be sure not to miss their Hints and Tips section, which answers those questions you were just about to ask, and their very nice Links page, which will point you to a wealth of resources on server-related standards and technologies as well as further information about Apache itself.

Apache Week
http://www.apacheweek.com/
Apache 2.0 Preview
http://www.apacheweek.com/features/apache20
HTTP version 1.1
http://www.apacheweek.com/features/http11
Apache Hints and Tips
http://www.apacheweek.com/tips/tips
Apache Related Links
http://www.apacheweek.com/docs/links

Extending Apache

Once you know what it does, it's time to start mucking with it (the programmer's credo). As I touched on above, Apache has its own plug-in API; by writing Apache modules you can intercede at any of the eight steps of its request-handling process. This is similar to Netscape's server API, NSAPI, although Apache's approach lets you step in at a few more places. (If you are familiar with WebObjects' request-response loop, the process is conceptually very similar.) Apache takes this plug-in approach seriously, and in fact uses it to implement some of what could be considered the core functionality of a server-for instance, access to CGIs is handled by the mod_cgi module. Another important example is the mod_WebObjects module provided by Apple as a better-performing alternative to the default CGI-based adaptor for serving WebObjects applications. Check out the Apache API notes (again part of Apache's own documentation) for an introduction, and a paper which Robert Thau presented at the Fifth International World Wide Web Conference for an explanation of the considerations behind its design.

Apache API notes
http://www.apache.org/docs/misc/API.html
Design considerations for the Apache Server API
http://www5conf.inria.fr/fich_html/papers/P20/Overview.html

You can write Apache modules in C, but you can also write them in Perl, and if you are familiar with Perl or are interested in learning it, this is a perfect place to apply it. Perl's text-manipulation facilities and high-level data structures, combined with its own large body of powerful community-developed libraries, can make quick work of seemingly complex tasks. A great resource for learning about writing Apache modules comes once again in the form of an O'Reilly book, Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C (ISBN 1-56592-567-X), which will give you the full scoop on writing modules to extend Apache's functionality. (I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I promise I'm not on O'Reilly's payroll.) Several of its chapters are available online on the author's accompanying web site.

Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C
http://www.modperl.com/

Also, check out the Apache/Perl Integration Project site for more information about mod_perl. In addition to letting you write Apache modules in Perl, this module improves the performance or Perl-based CGI scripts by embedding a Perl interpreter within Apache itself, and caching scripts in such a way that they can respond to requests without the overhead of launching the interpreter and compiling the script again each time. (Usually, web servers handle CGI requests by launching the CGI application again for each incoming request.) Although this does require you to rewrite your CGI scripts slightly, the speedup can be dramatic, especially for short scripts, whose startup overhead consumes much more time than actually generating the response.

The Apache/Perl Integration Project
http://perl.apache.org/

Getting Involved

Although Mac developers don't need to worry about having to port Apache, that doesn't mean that there isn't work to be done. There are a number of spin-off projects which could use a hand, and the Apache GUI project, for instance, just has Macintosh written all over it. So if you want to get your hands dirty with the open source community, then check out the Related Projects page and you might find something which grabs your interest. (Java servlets, anyone?) And don't forget, working on a piece of software with millions of grateful users can do wonders for your résumé.

Projects of the Apache Software Foundation
http://apache.org/foundation/projects.html
Apache-Related Projects
http://apache.org/related_projects.html
Apache GUI-Dev Project
http://gui.apache.org/

Commercial Tools

It will be interesting, going forward, to see how Apple manages to make its server offering into an actual product, since it is based around tools you can get elsewhere for free. One approach is to provide a rich set of management tools which liberate you from the vagaries of complex configuration files. This seems to be the approach taken by Tenon Intersystems, vendors of WebTen, which brought Apache to the classic Mac OS by providing a Unix emulation environment. For Mac OS X Server they have developed iTools, which brings web-based configuration to Apache and provides additional services (such as DNS and SSL). For the near future, iTools is probably the easiest way to access and manage some of Apache's more advanced features, such as virtual hosting.

WebTen
http://www.tenon.com/products/webten/
iTools
http://www.tenon.com/products/itools/

Alternatives

If Apache's popularity and openness have failed to win you over, you might want to explore your options. Netcraft has an extensive list of links to web server companies, and you can probably find any server you've ever heard of listed here. For a little more guidance, intenet.com's WebServer Compare site lets you search for a server based on the features you want, or you can just look at their quick compare list to get and idea of what's available. Finally, the World Wide Web FAQ has brief descriptions of a number of popular servers-it's a bit out of date but still a good place to start if you really are not sure what server you want to use. Most of the servers listed on this site will be Unix-based, but if you are looking to replace Apache then I am going under the assumption that you are operating under Mac OS X Server. You have a smaller range of choices if you want to run your server under the "classic" Mac OS, but that's a topic for another column.

Netcraft's Directory of Web Server Home Sites
http://www.netcraft.com/Survey/servers.html
WebServer Compare
http://webservercompare.internet.com/
WebServer Quick Compare
http://webservercompare.internet.com/cgi-bin/quickcompare.pl
World Wide Web FAQ
http://www.boutell.com/faq/oldfaq/index.html

Finally, if you just want to update your Mac OS X Server Apache installation to the latest version, check out the article on Stepwise, which tells you how to do it and what to watch out for.

Building Apache 1.3.9 for Mac OS X Server
http://www.stepwise.com/Articles/Workbench/BuildingApache1.3.9.html

Once you've set up your server, come to ours and visit the MacTech Online web pages at www.mactech.com/online/, where you'll find links to even more useful things.

 
AAPL
$97.67
Apple Inc.
+0.64
MSFT
$44.50
Microsoft Corpora
+0.10
GOOG
$589.02
Google Inc.
-4.33

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Vienna 3.0.0 RC 2 :be5265e: - RSS and At...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.1.5 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more
TinkerTool 5.3 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.0 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Intermission 1.1.1 - Pause and rewind li...
Intermission allows you to pause and rewind live audio from any application on your Mac. Intermission will buffer up to 3 hours of audio, allowing users to skip through any assortment of audio... Read more
Autopano Giga 3.6 - Stitch multiple imag...
Autopano Giga allows you to stitch 2, 20, or 2,000 images. Version 3.0 integrates impressive new features that will definitely make you adopt Autopano Pro or Autopano Giga: Choose between 9... Read more
Airfoil 4.8.7 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.8 - Connect...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
xACT 2.30 - Audio compression toolkit. (...
xACT stands for X Aaudio Compression Toolkit, an application that encodes and decodes FLAC, SHN, Monkey’s Audio, TTA, Wavpack, and Apple Lossless files. It also can encode these formats to MP3, AAC... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This Week at 148Apps: July 21-25, 2014
Another Week of Expert App Reviews   At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little... | Read more »
Reddme for iPhone - The Reddit Client (...
Reddme for iPhone - The Reddit Client 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: News Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Reddme for iPhone is an iOS 7-optimized Reddit client that offers a refreshing new way to experience Reddit... | Read more »
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery : Ep...
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery : Episode 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Jacob Jones is back in Episode 2 of one of Apples 'Best of 2013' games and an App Store... | Read more »
New Trailer For Outcast Odyssey, A New K...
New Trailer For Outcast Odyssey, A New Kind of Card Battler Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Out this Fall is a new kind of card battle game: Outcast Odyssey. | Read more »
Hay Day – Tip, Tricks, Strategies, and C...
Recently got into Supercell’s other huge hit, Hay Day and could do with some advice on what to do? We’ve got you covered with some helpful trips and tricks to bear in mind! Ticking Along One of the key things to keep in mind while building up that... | Read more »
Monster Head Review
Monster Head Review By Nadia Oxford on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FEEDING TIMEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Racking up a high score with Monster Head is trickier than it first appears. The appeal wears out fairly... | Read more »
Garfield: Survival of the Fattest Coming...
Garfield: Survival of the Fattest Coming to iOS this Fall Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Who loves lasagna? Me. Also everyone’s favorite grumpy fat cat, Garfield. | Read more »
Happy Flock Review
Happy Flock Review By Andrew Fisher on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: HERD IT ALL BEFOREUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Underneath the gloss of Happy Flock’s visuals is a game of very little substance. It’s cute, but... | Read more »
Square Register Updates Adds Offline Pay...
Square Register Updates Adds Offline Payments Posted by Ellis Spice on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Looking For Group – Hearthstone’s Curse...
For the first time since its release (which has thankfully been a much shorter window for iPad players than their PC counterparts), Blizzard’s wildly successful Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft CCG is sporting some brand new content: the single... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Record Mac Shipments In Q2/14 Confound Analys...
A Seeking Alpha Trefis commentary notes that Apple’s fiscal Q3 2014 results released July 22, beat market predictions on earnings, although revenues were slightly lower than anticipated. Apple’s Mac’... Read more
Intel To Launch Core M Silicon For Use In Not...
Digitimes’ Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai, report that Intel will launch 14nm-based Core M series processors specifically for use in fanless notebook/tablet 2-in-1 models in Q4 2014, with many models to... Read more
Apple’s 2014 Back to School promotion: $100 g...
 Apple’s 2014 Back to School promotion includes a free $100 App Store Gift Card with the purchase of any new Mac (Mac mini excluded), or a $50 Gift Card with the purchase of an iPad or iPhone,... Read more
iMacs on sale for $150 off MSRP, $250 off for...
Best Buy has iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Prices are valid for online orders only, in-store... Read more
Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP, starting...
Best Buy has Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup. Prices are for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: 2.5GHz Mac mini: $499.99 2.3GHz... Read more
Global Tablet Market Grows 11% in Q2/14 Notwi...
Worldwide tablet sales grew 11.0 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2014, with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation... Read more
New iPhone 6 Models to Have Staggered Release...
Digitimes’ Cage Chao and Steve Shen report that according to unnamed sources in Apple’s upstream iPhone supply chain, the new 5.5-inch iPhone will be released several months later than the new 4.7-... Read more
New iOS App Helps People Feel Good About thei...
Mobile shoppers looking for big savings at their favorite stores can turn to the Goodshop app, a new iOS app with the latest coupons and deals at more than 5,000 online stores. In addition to being a... Read more
Save on 5th generation refurbished iPod touch...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 5th generation iPod touches available starting at $149. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Many, but not all... Read more
What Should Apple’s Next MacBook Priority Be;...
Stabley Times’ Phil Moore says that after expanding its iMac lineup with a new low end model, Apple’s next Mac hardware decision will be how it wants to approach expanding its MacBook lineup as well... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
WW Sales Program Manager, *Apple* Online St...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
Lead Software Engineer, *Apple* Online Stor...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
Manager, *Apple* Fullfillment Operation (AF...
…cross-functional teams to drive the highest level of program management quality for Apple . You will help plan launch strategy and demand generation programs with Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.