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Client/Server Computing


Features to look for in HTTP server software are described here.

By now, there must be more than a hundred different HTTP servers to choose from for just about every operating system. They range from things promising you the Moon to absolutely free applications where you get exactly what you pay for. Obviously you want to choose something in between.


If you are just starting out, here is a list of features you should look for when selecting HTTP server software:

  • Access control via IP or domain name
  • Adequate technical support from the Internet
  • CGI scripting compatible
  • Configurable error file definitions
  • Flexible log file creation
  • Security through passwords
  • Supports server side includes (SSI)

More advanced features include:

  • Built-in imagemaping
  • Implements byte serving
  • Implements the PUT method
  • Simple logfile analysis
  • Specialized "hooks" to the server's operating system
  • Supports the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol
  • Technical support from the software's vendor
  • Tight integration with database applications
  • Web access to administrative functions


Each of the three HTTP servers outlined in the following sections support all of the features in the first list and a few of the features in the second. They are all free, and they are all very stable applications.


Apache, a server for Unix computers, is the most popular and is considered one of the most robust implementations. It does not do any logfile analysis. There is no vendor so there is no formal technical support. There is no real way to administrate the computer through a Web interface.

On the other hand, Apache's modular approach allows for a great deal of customization. It includes strong links for database applications. It allows you to save your logfiles in formats you define. But most importantly, it runs on any Unix computer, and Unix is an operating system designed for client/server and TCP/IP applications.

Quid Quo Pro

This server is extraordinarily simple to bring up and maintain. It does not support a close relationship with any database applications, but it is integrated with the Macintosh OS through AppleEvents. Unlike most other server software implementations, there are absolutely no text files write and save; everything is done through dialog boxes. It does include administrative functions and has built-in imagemapping. In short, Quid Quo Pro support the vast majority of features of the most populare Macintosh HTTP server but it is infinitely cheaper, $0.


WebSite comes with the most bells and whistles of the servers mentioned here. It supports all the features in the first list as well as the second list with the exception of SSL. It comes with extensive examples of imagemapping techniques, CGI scripting, server side includes, and administration features. Designed to run under Windows95 and Windows NT, this server would fit most people's needs especially considering the proliferation of the Windows platform.

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Version: 1.5
Last updated: 2004/12/23. See the release notes.
Author: Eric Lease Morgan (