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Merging Linux and Java on the Server Side - page 4

Merging Java and Linux on the Server Side

  • December 11, 1999
  • By Kevin Reichard

Avenida is an inexpensive Web server that's both scalable and centrally managed. When you unarchive the Avenida distribution, you're presented with Java code and some documentation files. The documentation file that details the installation is clear on how to set up the Avenida server; more complete documentation of actual use can be found at the Avenida Web site.

No matter how many separate servers you're running, you can set each of their behaviors in a central http.properties file, a simple text file that can be edited with any text editor (vi, emacs, etc.). Within this file, you can run down a list of properties and then set the values for those properties. Since each property is associated with a specific server, you can't set general properties. Though this could be a drawback if you were planning on running many servers, that isn't likely given the nature of Avenida and Java, and so in most cases isn't a major limitation.

If you don't want to edit the http.properties file with a text editor, you can use the Administration Tool, which sports a graphical user interface, to change the behaviors of a specific server and write the results to the file. The Administration Tool also serves as the general interface to your servers, allowing you to start, stop and manage them. Most users will want to use it to manage their Web server, since it's a very easy-to-use program. Many Web servers (e.g., Apache) are sorely in need of good administrative tools (some are on the way for Apache), and Avenida starts out with a distinct advantage thanks to its Administration Tool.

It opens with a screen that checks for which servers are initialized and then returns information on the exact status of each server. The initial installation will set up a default server on port 8000, which should serve the purposes of most Web-server managers. Buttons allow you to start and stop servers on demand. Add functions by installing specific add-on servlets, several of which are included (though you can also roll your own). For instance, there's one that sets up a proxy or automatically sends proxy requests to another server. By default, Avenida is set up to run with proxy functionality enabled.

Setting up a new server isn't difficult, especially if you've set up a Web server before. After telling Avenida to create a new server and then naming it, all you need to do is configure and then start it. Configuration involves specifying a port and document root directory, then setting up new URL and MIME mappings.

The one area where Avenida falls short is support policies. There's no phone or fax support if you purchase a commercial license. The Avenida folks say that this lack of support translates into lower prices for the software--and it is certainly true that Avenida is inexpensive when compared to Web servers from the likes of Netscape. However, some additional support--whether it's offered for an additional fee or limited to the first 30 days after purchasing Avenida--would be a welcome benefit for users.

Avenida is among the first of what will undoubtedly be a new wave of Web servers: small, nimble, and truly cross-platform apps that offer the best in performance and ease of use. It's definitely worth a look, especially if you're committed to the Java environment.

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