Apache Web Server Gets First Facelift in 6 Years

The world’s most popular web server just got a facelift.

On Tuesday, for the first time in over six years, the Apache Software Foundation unveiled a new version of its eponymous web server, which runs an estimated 398 million sites across the net.

“This release delivers a host of evolutionary enhancements throughout the server that our users, administrators, and developers will welcome”, read a statement from Eric Covener, vice president of the Apache HTTP Server Project. “We’ve added many new modules in this release, as well as broadened the capability and flexibility of existing features”.

The new release — available under the Apache 2.0 open source license — marks the web server’s 17th birthday. The project grew out of the NCSA httpd Web server developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in the early 90s, and in March 1999, it led to the formation of the Apache Software Foundation, the not-for-profit that now oversees nearly 150 open source projects.

According to web research outfit Netcraft, Apache now runs about 65 percent of all sites across the web, and no other web server is even close. Microsoft’s IIS (Internet Information Services) is at 14 percent, Russian open source web server NGINX is at 10 percent, and Google’s custom-built server (likely an Apache derivative) is at 3 percent.

Designed to handle a large number of visitors with relatively little memory, NGINX has been particularly popular in recent years, and earlier this month, the commercial company created around NGINX started offering official technical support for the tool. But Apache now has a response. According to the Foundation, the new version uses fewer system resources and less memory and does a better job of handling concurrent operations.

The new release also offers dynamic reverse proxy configuration, letting those who frequently change the addresses of their internal servers expose a single IP address to the outside world.

The Apache Software Foundation could not immediately be reached for comment.

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