What is Apache?


Apache HTTP Server is a webserver developed and maintained by The Apache Software Foundation. The stated objective of Apache is to create an open source HTTP server that will run on any modern operating system and hardware. In addition to it's wide platform support, Apache is also infinitely configurable . Although urban legend alleges the Apache name to be shorthand for "A patchy server", in fact the name stems from the fighting spirit of the Apache Native American culture. The Apache Software Foundation is classified as a 501c non-profit organization in the United States, granting it tax-exempt status, yet allowing it to hold and protect copyrights and other assets. As such, The Apache Software Foundation manages over 50 open source Internet and computing projects.

The Apache webserver hosts about half of the Internet's websites, with only Microsoft's Internet Information Services as a serious competitor. Although Apache continues to host more websites than any other webserver, it's market share has been diminishing since it's all-time high of 70% in November 2005. Apache was developed by the same people who developed the NCSA HTTPd web server. NCSA HTTPd was an early attempt at creating a configurable, extensible dedicated webserver based upon the HTTP protocol invented at CERN. When a main NCSA developer left the foundation in 1994, the NCSA HTTPd project became stagnant, with no one available to assemble and compile the many patches proposed for the software. The situation deteriorated for a full year before the disposed developer decided to take the numerous patches and create a new webserver. Other NCSA engineers took part in the new project, and the Apache webserver was born. Although the first version of Apache was heavily based upon NCSA code, the v2.0 release featured all-original code, with an emphasis on uniformity, portability, and modularization. This made possible technologies such as "Apache Mod", an API for Apache modules enabling features such as PHP and MySQL integration, authentication, URL rewrite facilities, and unlimited other features.

The Apache webserver is distributed under the open source Apache License, a license which had been rejected by the Free Software Foundation as incompatible with prior versions of it's own GPL open source license. Despite this abjuration, Apache is widely distributed with GPL software, as is the case in most Linux distributions. However, version 3.0 of the GPL is in fact compatible with version 2.0 of the Apache License, potentially ending the issue. This is seen as a blow to Microsoft, which publishes FUD campaigns based upon the license incompatibility issue. However, the changes in both licenses were designed specifically to address issues such as these, which are more a matter of software philosophy than a technical issue.

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