Web Server

If you were to look at the HTTP response headers from this site, you’d see it is being handled by:

Server: heliod-web-server/0.1

Which is a web server you’ve probably never heard of before… Or I should say, you most likely have, but with various different names.

Way back when, this was the Netscape Enterprise Server. Which later became iPlanet Web Server (during the Sun|Netscape alliance). Under Sun alone, it was renamed several times to SunONE Web Server and Sun Java System Web Server (and maybe some other name variants I forget now). Naming nonsense aside, it’s been the same evolving code base all along, best known for high performance and even higher scalability.

Thankfully, Sun open sourced the code in 2009 under the BSD license. Most of it, anyway. Unfortunately a few parts were left out, mainly the administration support, installer and the embedded Java servlet engine. The open source code was kept in sync with the commercial releases until January 2010 (7.0 update 8, using the commercial release version numbering). After that, the open source repository has not seen any activity (not coincidentally, January 2010 was also when Oracle acquired Sun, so this is not surprising).

Surprisingly, the source repository is still available:

hg clone ssh://anon@hg.opensolaris.org/hg/webstack/webserver

The source as published can be tricky to build and it does not produce an installable package. When I was setting up this site last year I ended up forking this code into http://sourceforge.net/projects/heliod/. The code is the same but I added a rudimentary install script to make it easier to get going. You can download binaries for Solaris (x86) and Linux from the sourceforge page so you don’t have to build it yourself if you prefer not to.

(Update: The source is now in github here: https://github.com/jvirkki/heliod)


9 thoughts on “Web Server

  1. It lives!!! I often wondered what became of Open Web Server post-Oracle, and after randomly Googling authors from old relevant BSC entries I came across your site today.

    Any plans to grow Heliod as a community or project going forward?

    Looking forward to giving this a spin.

  2. Thanks for the interest! ;-)

    I am using it for my own (minimal) web hosting needs, not sure if anyone else has used it. I’d like to do some work on it to add new features but free time is always a constraint. If you have a chance to give it a try please comment on the sourceforge forum and/or file bugs or enhancements and/or promote it elsewhere. It would be nice to see it go forward if some interest builds up.

  3. I have not built it on SPARC yet. If I get some free time some day I’ll give it a shot. Or if you have a SPARC box and want to try it go for it. Unfortunately building it still requires jumping through some hoops because the dependent libraries need to be built in a specific way first. I have some scripts to do that but they’re specific to my home network. I should generalize them a bit and publish for others to use. If I have some free time…

  4. You could also publish the scripts as is (obfuscating anything like passwords, ips and hostnames would probably be a good idea ).

    I do have a few sparc machines. V480 (S10) and T5240 (S11). I’m also hoping to see martux or OI for sparc shipping sometime soon, to get one of my V box on it. I’m not in a hurry, so i’ll keep an eye on your blog, if you get to publish the scripts…


  5. Do you have performance/capacity metrics for this server or could you run a few benchmarks? I’m curious regarding how this compares to apache/lighthttpd, especially on Solaris.

  6. Pingback: heliod – Oracle’s flagship web server product available as open source « Dave Koelmeyer

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