inessential by Brent Simmons


Here's a point in favor of OS X as a Manila server: Apache.


In setting up Frontier on our new Cube -- which runs OS X -- I needed to do something similar to what we do with our NT Frontier servers. Those machines save user-uploaded pictures and other static files to a Linux server running Apache, since Apache is so good at serving static files.

The drawback to that arrangement is that there's another box, at least one Linux box, that's part of the mix. We have to set up file-sharing, Apache, virtual domains. Blah blah blah. It's not usually a pain, except, well, when it is a pain.

The beauty of OS X is that Apache's already there. You can give your machine two IP addresses: Frontier listens on one; Apache listens on the other.

That means: no file-sharing connection needed. No separate box for doing static serving. One machine does it all: dynamic Manila sites and static files.

Now, of course you might say: hey Brent, hold up a sec, I can do that on NT Server or Mac OS 9.

But -- I reply -- Apache on NT isn't that great, not compared to Apache on Unix. And if you use IIS instead, you're going to run into IIS's funkiness with locking files -- there will be times Frontier can't write a picture or other file to disk, because IIS won't let it replace an existing file. So this setup isn't so nice on Windows. (And plus, it's Windows, so you get no style points.)

If you're using OS 9, WebSTAR or WebTEN with Frontier -- well, you're paying extra money. (On the other hand, WebSTAR and WebTEN have much to recommend them, and they're worth the money.) More importantly, you're not using a quote-unquote real operating system, for whatever that matters. (As someone who's been running Mac servers since 1995, and who still runs a couple servers running OS 8.x, I can say that it does matter sometimes. Much as I've always hated to admit it.)

Frontier. Apache. Two great tastes that taste great together -- on the same damn box, thank ye very much.

Peter M. Jansson wrote to let me know that AOLServer also runs on Mac OS X. I didn't know that, but hey, right on.

I'll be more specific about why I think being able to run Apache and Frontier on the same box is cool. While some Frontier server managers have the mondo setup -- lots of servers, racks, UPSes, hot-swappable this and that, automated xyz management, industrial strength squirrel detection -- others don't. There are many who have just one machine sitting in a closet somewhere. For those people, a single, easy-to-use box that does both Manila and static serving is a total bonus.

David Brown suggests it might be possible to have Frontier, Apache, and Zope all running on the same machine with just one IP address.

Phil Suh has been running Apache on NT and loving it.