The father and son team of Ben and Peter Laurie have revised their valuable reference for system administrators and programmers.
With Apache being the most popular Web server platform in use today, O’Reilly
decided that it was time for a new edition of Apache: The Definitive Guide, by the father and
son team of Ben and Peter Laurie. The book detailsApache’s implementation under both UNIX and Win32
environments (Win32 systems refer to Windows95, Windows98, and WindowsNT systems).
Aside from the
initial configuration, the administration procedures for both types of systems employ similar, if
not identical, directives. (The authors note any significant variations.) The Lauries modified and
expanded the original edition to reflect the new features in Apache 1.3. The book contains a CD-ROM
which includes Apache 1.3.3. There is also a Quick Reference Card by Andrew Ford that covers Apache
1.3.4. The authors discuss the essential topics in an easy to follow order, from beginner’s topics
such as “Getting Started” and “Our First Web Site”, to more advanced subjects like “The Apache API”
and “Writing Apache Modules”. The Appendices deal with support organizations, the echo program, NCSA
and Apache compatibility, and the SSL protocol, which allows Apache to create secure connections to
The authors begin this guide to Apache with an essential definition of a Web server and its
[T]he whole business of a Web server is to translate a URL either into a filename, and then send that file back over
the Internet, or into a program name, and then run that program and send back its output. That is
the meat of what it does; all the rest is trimming.
This basic idea is then augmented by a list of attributes that a Web server should ideally
possess. The introductory chapter examines alternative ways to obtain Apache and also discusses
optional techniques for installing and/or compiling it. The authors describe how Apache works, the
role of TCP/IP, and the elements within the configuration file. Fortunately, the Lauries present the
configuration options and directives in small sections throughout the book as opposed to in a single
chapter entitled “Configuration”. Through the creation of an example Web site and business, known as
Butterthlies, Inc., the authors address the pertinent issues surrounding a Web site running the
Apache Web Server. They also detail the configuration of functions such as authentication, indexing,
the Common Gateway Interface (CGI), and the Apache Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). There are a
remarkable amount of tips, warnings, whys, and wherefores throughout the book. Historical
perspective is also provided where applicable.
Apache: The Definitive Guide
By Ben Laurie and Peter Laurie
O’Reilly and Associates, Inc.
369 Pages, $34.95
Quick Reference Card by Andrew Ford
and CD-ROM Included
In addition to the necessary information about Web sites and what data Apache expects and
requires, the authors also present technical insight to some of the more advanced concepts,
including authentication and security. The three-sided quick reference card (ignoring the appaloosa
for the moment) by Andrew Ford is an excellent supplement to the book and presents the correct
format of the directives by type (general configuration, sectional, logging, performance tuning,
etc.), as well as command line options, CGI variables, Apache-SSL/ mod_ssl extensions, Server Side
Includes (SSI), HTTP 1.1 Status Codes, and Apache’s Web Resources.
Apache: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition, is a valuable resource forApache
administrators. Ben and Peter Laurie present an approach to Apache installation, compilation,
configuration, and use which is always precise and often humorous. Ben Laurie is a member of the
core Apache group, while Peter Laurie is a freelance author (which means that this book is not only
technically accurate, but also readable, even for beginning administrators). The book is an
excellent reference and guidebook for Webmasters, system administrators, and programmers.
Elizabeth Zinkann is a Contributing Editor and Review Columnist for Sys Admin Magazine.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.