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Apache is a full-featured robust Web server that is available, free of charge, for Unix, Linux, and even for Windows. This software is completely open source and is free to download from www.apache.org. It also ships with Red Hat Linux. The fact that it is included in the Red Hat installation makes it ideal for our purposes. The Apache Project is a collaborative software development project whose aim is to produce a robust, professional-level, full-featured HTTP (Web) server. The project is managed by a group of volunteers located around the world, using the Internet and the Web to communicate. These volunteers are known as the Apache Group. It is important to realize that the entire process is done by volunteers donating their time and expertise. In addition, hundreds of Apache users have contributed ideas to the project.
Before we delve into the intricacies of working with Apache, it might be a good idea to explore its history just a little. In February 1995, the most popular server software on the Web was an HTTP daemon developed by Rob McCool at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Recall that a daemon is just a program that runs in the background without interaction from the user sitting at the computer. In Windows these are called services. Unfortunately, development of that Web server stalled after Mr. McCool left NCSA in 1994. However, since it was open source, many Webmasters developed their own extensions to the Web server as they were needed. A small group of these Webmasters decided that they should coordinate their efforts into a standard release of the software. Brian Behlendorf and Cliff Skolnick put together a mailing list and set up a server to hold extensions written by the core development team. At that point these eight core contributors formed the foundation of the original Apache Group. The names of these individuals are
Roy T. Fielding
Robert S. Thau
They started with Version 1.3 of the NCSA Web server as a base and then added all of the published bug fixes and enhancements they could find. Apache was an immediate success. Webmasters loved the price: free! And developers loved the open source concept. This enabled any competent programmer to make modifications and submit them for release as part of the next version of Apache.
Apache exists today for a few rather simple reasons. It is a robust, professional-grade Web server that is free of charge. Apache was originally available only for Unix-based systems, but has since been ported to Windows. This brings us to one last but very humorous point in the history of Apache, the name. Some people seem to think the name is derived from the Native American tribe, but this is not true. Since this Web server was originally the work of several different developers patched together, it was called A-Patchy-Server. This name eventually morphed into Apache Server.
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