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.