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Stable Apache Release Hits

With over 50 million Web sites hosted on Apache HTTP servers, it's hard to understate the fundamental importance of Apache to the infrastructure of the Internet.

The Apache Software Foundation launched its latest stable release of the Apache HTTP Server, inaugurating the new 2.2.x branch of the venerable server application.

Apache 2.2.0 is the first major new stable branch release of the Apache Web server since the Apache 2.x version was deemed "production ready" in April 2002.

Justin Erenkrantz, director and treasurer of The Apache Software Foundation, told internetnews.com that he was very proud of the new release.

"This is not as big a jump for us like from 1.3 to 2.0, but the features we introduced with 2.0 allowed some of the improvements we can deliver with 2.2," Erenkrantz explained.

Version 2.2.0 introduces a myriad of notable improvements over its predecessors. The new Web server now uses the Apache Portable Runtime (APR) 1.0 API, which provides libraries that interface between the underlying operating system and the server.

Authentication and authorization have also been improved with the mod_authn_alias module that developers claim will simplify certain authentication configurations.

"I think the two biggest features are a production-quality caching system and integration of AJP out of the box for Tomcat support," Erenkrantz said.

Apache 2.2 includes a new mod_proxy_ajp module that supports the Apache JServ Protocol that Apache Tomcat uses.

Erenkrantz, who is also a member of the Apache HTTP Server Project Management Committee, noted that Apache 2.2 also has better out-of-the-box support for files greater than 2GB.

The release of Apache 2.2 as a stable application means that there are now three stable Apache Web servers: the 2.2.x branch, the 2.0.x branch and the legacy 1.3.x branch which is still widely deployed.

The new release doesn't necessarily mean the end of support for the other branches of the Apache HTTP Web server.

"We have not yet had a formal discussion about closing 1.3.x down yet," Erenkrantz said. "However, we will consider making security releases as needed. But for all new features, we will probably not add much to 1.3 or 2.0 now. I would expect that we may do a couple releases of 2.0.x; but there probably won't be a lot of effort on our part for that tree."

Apache last updated its 2.0.x and 1.3.x Web server in October with mainly security and bug fix releases.

Apache's HTTP Web server is considered one of the most successful open source projects of all time, dominating the Web serving market since 1996.

The December 2005 Netcraft Web server survey reported that Apache Web servers currently power 52 million Web sites and command a 70 percent market share.