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What Is Apache?
If you're looking for a freely available, easy to use, yet fully functional Web server, then Apache is the product for you. A group of dedicated and hard-working developers, working on a volunteer basis, have created the most popular server on the Internet today. Apache is proving to be more popular than servers being sold commercially by Internet powerhouses Microsoft and Netscape. Apache will enable you to serve your own Web site, either on an intranet or the wider Internet, with advanced features like scripting, redirection, authentication, and much more.
Apache has lots of pluses: It can be downloaded and used for free; it's newly available for Windows; it's continually being upgraded and improved. But there are tradeoffs. Because Apache is a non-commercial program that has its origins in the world of Unix, setup and configuration are not straightforward, especially for users who aren't familiar with Unix. The many new Webmasters who install the Windows version of Apache may need a jump start in setting up and running the program.
That's where Apache Server For Windows Little Black Book comes in. This book is designed to provide a handy quick reference guide to installing and operating Apache for Windows NT, 95, or 98.
Assumptions About You
This book assumes that you have already decided to set up your own Web site with Apache. Chances are you are attracted to Apache because it's free and it's a proven performer that can handle even the biggest Web sites. You probably already have an Internet connection and have surfed the Web extensively, so you don't need a lot of introductory information. You just want to set the program up and get your Web site online.
Some Background About Apache
Apache is part of a tradition of freely available software that is made available by researchers working at institutions such as the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. It isn't designed to work with one single operating system, but has been ported to many different systems. It comes with moduleswhich are mini-programs that perform common functionsand it can be custom configured and programmed for individual situations. In fact, Apache grew out of the second Web server, NCSA httpd, which was developed by Rob McCool in 1993. To be exact, Apache was a plug-in replacement for NCSA version 1.3.
The Apache HTTP Server Project was initiated in 1995. Since then, Apace continues to be developed in the original collaborative spirit of the Internet. Programmers in the Apache Group work together on the program, releasing beta versions for free and receiving bug reports from users. Newsgroups and Web sites are a primary source of documentation and support. The program grows more powerful and stable as patches are made to it. (The name Apache comes from its nature as "a patchy Web server.")
Apache is designed to run on Windows NT 4, but it will also run on Windows 95 and 98. In the course of writing this book, all three platforms were tested. Any special configuration issues or problems are mentioned where appropriate in the text.
TIP: The version of Apache 1.3 that was available when this was written is not as stable as Unix releases. You should take this into account if you run into problems with Apache. The version you download from the Internet (at www.apache.org) is sure to be more stable and may have a GUI interface as well.
TIP: While this book was in production, Microsoft announced that it is changing the name of future versions of Windows NT to Windows 2000. Although early betas of Windows 2000 were available, the final release was so far in the future that the authors decided not to test Apache with it. This book, then, covers versions of Windows NT only.
What You'll Learn In This Book
This book concentrates on Apache's installation and configuration for Windows computers. At the same time, Apache Server For Windows Little Black Book also examines important aspects of Web site administration with which Webmasters need to be familiar: organizing a Web site, creating effective content, and using Apache to do electronic commerce, access databases, and more.
You'll learn the benefits of being an Apache expert and of controlling your own Web site. You can run scripts, keep track of logs and other files, and set up password authentication to restrict access to sensitive areas of your site.
You'll also learn these essential Web server administrative functions:
How to run CGI scripts and deliver dynamic HTML on your site
How to keep your Web site secure using Secure Sockets Layer, passwords, and aliases
How to use Apache as a test server as well as an external Internet server
How to configure MIME types in order to serve multimedia content
How to create modules with the Apache API
How to track your server activity with logs and other utilities
How This Book Is Organized
Chapters 1 through 4 examine the process of getting started with Apache: downloading and installing the program; administering and organizing a Web server; and designing an effective and well-designed Web site, both through basic organizational techniques and through virtual hosts.
Chapters 5 through 10 cover a range of techniques for adding functionality and power to your Apache site. You'll learn how to handle different types of content; use authentication to restrict access; execute CGI programs to generate Web content "on the fly"; and make use of server-side includes and image maps.
Chapters 11 through 16 discuss how to configure and customize log files to track visitors and investigate errors; implement Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security; set up Apache as a proxy server; implement electronic commerce payment schemes; troubleshoot common problems; and use the Apache API.
Following the main body of the book, you'll find several appendixes that present you with supplementary reference materials. Appendix A presents the modules that are built into the standard release of Apache, along with the configuration directives that are provided by each one. Appendix B points you to resources on the Internet where you can find out more about Apache and seek out support. Appendix C is a sampling of Apache API functions you are likely to use if you try to create your own modules. Appendix D gives an overview of common symbols and characters used in regular expressions, which give Apache the ability to match file names and other strings. Appendix E discusses how Apache connects with the Year 2000 problem. Finally, the back matter of the book concludes with an index that you can use to search for specific terms or topics, which will make using this book as a reference tool even quicker and more effective.
How To Use This Book
Feel free to navigate Apache Server For Windows Little Black Book in the way that best suits your experience with Web servers or with Windows. Because this book is designed to be a reference resource, it isn't necessarily intended to be read from start to finish. Skip around for exercises and examples that will help with current problems you are encountering and functions you need to perform with Apache. If you need to solve specific problems, check Chapter 16, for instance. If you need to set up virtual hosts, see Chapter 4. For security concerns, refer to Chapters 9 or 12. Also, you'll notice that each chapter contains a jump table, which acts like a mini table of contents. If you want to quickly find a topic in a certain chapter, look it up on the chapter's first page.
We welcome your feedback on this book and are available by email for questions or comments. You can reach Greg Holden at firstname.lastname@example.org and Matthew Keller at email@example.com. You might also encounter us in the comp.infosystems.www.servers.ms-windows newsgroup.
Posted January 19, 2000
I'd recommend this excellent book! This book presented the steps (with great explanations) that I needed to easily set up the Apache Server. It has breath enough for more expert users, too. Its content was equal or greater than the O'Reilly press's 'Apache Definitive Guide' (which I purchased first and could not understand).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.