Web Servers

The architecture therefore involves two programs, a client ‘browser” and a server, communicating across a network… The server is free to generate the documents either by sending real files, or by generating virtual hypertext on the fly in response to a request.

Tim Berners-Lee, et al.; World-Wide Web: An Information Infrastructure for High­Energy Physics; January 1992.

Every web site is managed by a web server. The web server handles all of the network communications with individual user browsers. The server accepts HTTP requests for web pages, and sends the requested pages to browsers over the Internet.

Any Windows, Macintosh, or Unix computer is capable of running a web server when it is connected to the Internet. However, it isn’t practical over a dial-up connection since they are slow, not always connected, and change their IP Address every time you log on. A dedicated connection in an office, or a high speed home connection like DSL, provides the always-on attribute needed to run a reliable web server.

Different web servers have different scalability, robustness, security, transportability, and related features. A web server may be dedicated for one domain name, or maintain web sites for several domains.

Resources. The following resources provide information about web servers:

  • Free web servers:
    • Apache — Built on top of the original web server created by NCSA, and publicly released in version 0.6.2 on April 27, 1995. As NCSA turned their focus to their Mosaic web browser, they stopped development of the server, so a group of web developers provided a bunch of software patches to version 1.3 of their original httpd server called “apache”, and then started maintaining and improving it in a free open source software environment. Apache is now a sophisticated, multi-platform application, and the most popular web server in use on the Internet.
    • Jigsaw — The W3C’s open source web server, developed by Anselm Baird-Smith from France.
    • Microsoft IIS — Easy, fast, Microsoft platforms only.