New Apache aims to please

The Apache Software Foundation today released a major new version of its flagship Web server software, claiming improvements in a number of areas such as the ability to handle large files and better support for SQL-type databases. Over 70 percent of Web sites worldwide use the open source software to provide services, according to a November report by Internet research firm Netcraft.

The Apache Software Foundation today released a major new version of its flagship Web server software, claiming improvements in a number of areas such as the ability to handle large files and better support for SQL-type databases.

Over 70 percent of Web sites worldwide use the open source software to provide services, according to a November report by Internet research firm Netcraft. The new version 2.2 of the Web server is intended to replace previous iterations like 2.0 and 1.3.

"We consider this release to be the best version of Apache available and encourage all users to upgrade" the foundation said in a statement this morning. "Apache 2.2 offers numerous enhancements, improvements and performance boosts over the 2.0 codebase."

"This release has been through extensive testing, including live testing at some of the world's busiest sites, and is now considered stable."

A complete list of enhancements to the software since version 2.0 was released details the software's new ability to handle files larger than 2Gb. The list claims configuration and authentication options have lost some of their complexity.

"The default configuration layout has been simplified and modularised," said the list. "Configuration snippets which can be used to enable commonly-used features are now bundled with Apache, and can be easily added to the main server config."

"The bundled authentication and authorisation modules have been refactored. The new mod_authn_alias module can greatly simplify certain authentication configurations."

Caching and proxying functions have also been enhanced, as well as the ability for the software to gracefully halt its activities upon request.

The ability to add Apache and other third-party modules into the Web server for additional functionality has long been one of the software's core capabilities.

"This release builds on and extends the Apache 2.0 application programming interface (API)," said the foundation in its statement. "Modules written for Apache 2.0 will need to be recompiled in order to run with Apache 2.2, but no substantial reworking should be necessary."

Apache 2.2 also adds the ability for modules to directly access SQL-type databases.

The foundation had one warning for admins though: beware of threaded Multi-Processing Modules (MPMs) -- a special subcategory of module.

"When upgrading or installing this version of Apache, please bear in mind that if you intend to use Apache with one of the threaded MPMs, you must ensure that any modules you will be using (and the libraries they depend on) are thread-safe," it said.

Systems administrator needed
Today also marks the deadline for responses to the foundation's mid-November call for proposals for paid contractors to look after its development and hosting infrastructure.

The eventual appointment will mark the first time Apache has hired a paid staff member, and reflects the growth of the foundation, where a number of related open source projects like anti-spam software SpamAssassin now find their home.

"We service over a thousand [programmers], operate over three hundred public mailing lists, handle well over 1.5 million incoming emails per day and deliver a rather large multiple of that number," the foundation's volunteer chief marketing and media officer Susan Wu wrote on an Apache blog earlier this week.

In addition, they "host over 30 'top level projects', serve about five million Web requests (not including our mirrors), host over six gigabytes of release packages, and have over two hundred thousand commits [code additions] under our Subversion repository."

"We expect the Apache Software Foundation to continue to grow. Accordingly, we must plan our infrastructure to scale to handle the increased loads. And growth, in terms of resource creation (new mailing lists, accounts, etc.) is one of the primary stresses on available volunteer time," Wu concluded.

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