Learning from The Apache Way

Glyn Moody | The H (h-online.com) | September 26, 2011

Every month, regular as clockwork, the free software community receives a gift. It takes the unusual form of the Netcraft Web Server Survey, which provides a measure – by no means the only one – of the market share of the main web server software used on the public internet.

For the last 15 years, Apache has been the most popular system there; and for the last 15 years, Microsoft's IIS has failed to dethrone it, despite at least two concerted attempts to do so (visible as temporary rises and then falls in the latter's market share). This month, though, the survey has an extra little present: Microsoft's market share has not only (again) failed to rise, it has actually sunk back to the level it attained in June 1997. That is, in 14 years, IIS has gone precisely nowhere.

In the early days of free software, Apache served a vital purpose. At a time when GNU/Linux was just beginning to enter the consciousness of the mainstream IT community, the question invariably posed was: could this free software stuff ever seriously challenge Microsoft? As far back as 15 years ago, Apache showed not only that it could, but that it had. In this respect, Apache has been open source's biggest, and longest-running, success story...