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Understanding Apache 17 April 2010

Posted by jannaq in GeekSpeak, Tools & Tech.
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What is Apache?

The simplest way to explain Apache is to say that it is a web server. Web servers use HTTP protocol to send web pages to a client’s computer when the client requests them. Apache, however, is special because is it freeware, meaning, that is available free to all web users. Further, the full source code is provided to all users and it comes with an unrestrictive license. Apache is highly configurable and extensible with modules and is actively being developed. Its creation is a project of the Apache Foundation in an effort to develop and maintain an open-source HTTP server for modern operating systems including UNIX and Windows NT.

While the Apache site is open and available to all, the actual web server is written by an invited group of talented programmers. The developers for a large community of volunteers called the Apache Software Foundation. Additionally, the Apache Software Foundation has an outlet for suggestions and fixes to crowd source from its general user base.  They thoroughly encourage user feedback through new ideas, bug reports, and patches.

The more popular accepted story for how Apache gets its name is that it was a cute name that stuck (A PAtCHy server), since Apache was originally based on some existing code and a series of “patch files.”A more responsible group believes that Apache gets its name from respect for the Native American tribe of Apache. The tribe is well known for their superior skills in warfare strategy and their inexhaustible endurance.

How does it work

Apache is responsible for accepting directory (HTTP) requests from Internet users and sending them their desired information in the form of files and Web pages (client-server model). Much of the Web’s software and code is designed to work along with Apache’s features. Programmers working on Web applications typically make use of a home version of Apache to preview and test code. Apache also has a safe and secure file-sharing feature, allowing users to put files into the root directory of their Apache software and share them with other users. The Apache server’s impact on the open-source software community is partly explained by the unique, unrestrictive license through which software from the Apache Software Foundation is distributed

Getting Involved

Why is it important?

Apache plays a large role in our digital worlds, as it has been the most popular web server since April of 1996.  After its 1995 release, Apache quickly gained a majority hold on the Web server market. Currently, it provides servers for Internet giants such as Google and Wikimedia projects like Wikipedia.  In the early 21st century, Apache servers deployed more than 50% of the Internet’s content.

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