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ApacheCon: Fueling the Web Revolution

Apache: The Poster Child for Open Source

  • March 9, 2000
  • By Paul Ferris
If Open Source has another poster child besides Linux, it's the Apache Web server. It seems that when people speak of Open Source projects, they like to point more at failure than at success. They point to the fact that Mozilla has taken forever to develop as a "failure." If Mozilla appears at any time, turns out to be usable and makes some people happy, then it won't at that point be a failure.

But pointing downward at Mozilla is ignoring the incredible success story of Apache. Although 30 percent of the World Wide Web is powered by Linux-based servers, the bigger story is Apache. Netcraft shows the market share of Apache to be in the 58 percent range, literally dwarfing all competitors.

It's more than just software, it's the digital printing press of the Internet age. It's freedom of speech expressed in technical terms. Microsoft charges literally thousands of dollars for technology that is not in the same league as Apache. If you want to scale up from that 486 in the back room into big iron, you're going to need Web-server software that's able to jump hardware platforms and operating systems.

Apache works on damn near everything from cheap Intel-based hardware to big Sun and HP boxes--all the way into big iron like IBM mainframes. It has even been ported to VMS and fault-tolerant operating systems. Even choose Microsoft Windows, if you're so inclined.

What can you say in the negative about this open-source success story? I think it's one of those things that's hard for some people to grasp, because it seems like some sort of fairy tale.

But it's not a fairy tale, and it's not really fair--because Linux is stealing a lot of Apache's limelight. Out of all of the people that I've told about ApacheCon, only one even knew what Apache was--and he'd been using it.

ApacheCon is the yearly convention dedicated to Apache and Apache products. There are over 1,000 visitors this year, and the show creators were sitting around saying things to me like, "Wow, this is going so mainstream so fast." God, I hope so. It'd be a terrible thing for something that has captured 60 percent of the Internet Web-server market share to not be mainstream (grin mode equals one).

So, what's ApacheCon about, then? Well, if you're going to be doing Web serving with Apache, and you want to find out what other people are doing, if you want to find out what your possibilities for expansion are, if you want to see new technology based upon Apache--this is the place.

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