Notes on Web Server Open Sourcing

Brian Aker wrote about the open sourcing of our web server and it got picked up on slashdot today.

I was reading through the comments and figured I’d throw in a few notes about what this code is and is not…

(I worked directly on the Web Server product for some years and while it is not my day job today, I’m still very closely affiliated with the group who works on the commercial version of this product inside Sun.)

  • First, the released code is not a snapshot of the Netscape Enterprise Server
    from the 90’s!
  • What it is, is a snapshot of the very latest source code for JES Web Server 7.0 (with some non-core parts removed, such as the administration infrastructure – see full list of differences here.
  • The commercial version of this product is actively maintained and sold by Sun (note it is free to download and use, however – so feel free to download both the source and the commercial binaries and try/compare both, if you wish).
  • That said, the code is indeed a direct descendant of the Netscape Enterprise Server. The marketing name changes over the years have not marked rewrites of the core code, it’s been the same code all along.
  • While the revision history is not part of the open sourced snapshot (sorry), I can mention that in the internal repository of this code I see cvs comments dating back to 1995.
  • With over ten years of development and bug fixing a lot has changed, naturally. On the other hand, if you were involved with the original product way back then, you’ll definitely find some familiar bits and pieces here and there. As with any mature software product, there are always some parts which have not changed in ages.
  • So, while not a mummified snapshot, the code is indeed interesting as a piece of Internet history. Furthermore, it is also interesting as a modern living product.
  • Extreme scalability in multi-CPU (or multi-core) hardware is perhaps the most interesting angle from which to look at the code. (Funnily enough, with the rise of parallelism in modern hardware, maybe the code is becoming more interesting these days instead of less!)
  • As to who or why be interested, that doesn’t really have any one answer. If you find it interesting or useful for either reason (or some other of your own), enjoy! Being under BSD license, there are many ways to take advantage of it.
Posted in Sun

Announcing Open Source Web Server

I’m happy to announce that our Web Server product (about which I’ve been writing here for a few years now) is now open sourced and available as part of the OpenSolaris Web Stack community!

Well, technically it is not exactly the Web Server product, since the open sourced code does not include some of the value-add components such as the administration framework. But it is the real deal, the massively scalable web server core which is used in the JES Web Server 7.0 product is now all open source!

This marks another milestone in the very long history of this web server. Back in the 90’s this was the Netscape Enterprise Server, which later morphed into the iPlanet Web Server during the Sun|Netscape Alliance. After some years it was renamed the SunONE Web Server and most recently renamed again to the JES Web Server (Sun just like to keep you confused, thus the constant renaming of the product!)

The code is placed under BSD license, this should allow for good cross pollination with other web tier projects.


Source code is available via:

% hg clone ssh://

Build instructions are here:

(The code itself is highly portable as you can see based on the supported platforms of the commercial product. Building on other platforms is a bit more involved due to dependencies so the build instructions only cover the more flexible platforms.)

(edit: adding link to top level info page)

More info here:

Posted in Sun