Interview with Rich Bowen, co-author of Apache Administrator's Handbook
by Mirko Zorz - Wednesday, 11 February 2003.
Hi. I'm Rich Bowen. I live in Lexington, Kentucky, and have been in this area for about 15 years. In addition to the time that I spend on geek pursuits, I enjoy hiking and rock climbing, kites, and am a bit of a wine connoisseur. Of this latter pursuit, you can see a little bit on my web site. But, to be completely honest, I spend much of my free time on Apache and Apache-related pursuits.

You are the CTO of Cooper McGregor. Introduce the company to our readers.

Cooper McGregor was founded in 2001 by myself, Richard Cooper Bowen, and my partner, Chad McGregor Crouch, for the purpose of moving more into Apache server training. There are, as far as I know, no other companies in the USA which do Apache server training as their specialty. There are a number of companies that do Apache training as part of a larger curriculum, but I don't think that any of them have an ASF member doing the training. CM is located in Wilmore, Kentucky, and we also are available to do training at other locations around the country and around the world.

How long have you been working with Apache, and how did you get interested in it?

I've been using Apache since the initial release in 1995, and I was using the NCSA server, from which Apache evolved, prior to that.

Although my formal training is in mathematics, I started doing web stuff when I was in graduate school at the University of Kentucky. I grew up in Kenya, East Africa, and I was looking on the (very young and small, at that time) web for sites about Kenya. There weren't any, so I started one. That site is one of the more popular Kenya web sites, and draws visitors from around the world to discuss events in Kenya, and other topics of interest to Kenyans.

As I started working more with Apache, I found the documentation frustrating and incomplete. It lacked examples, and explanations that were there were occasionally difficult to understand. About that same time, by a strange series of events, I was asked to be an author for the book "Apache Server Unleashed." As part of the process of writing that book, I started to contribute small changes back into the documentation, which led to me eventually becoming a part of the documentation project.

How long did it take you to co-write the "Apache Administrator's Handbook" and what was it like?

"Apache Administrator's Handbook" was intended to be a replacement for the "Unleashed" book, although "Unleashed" is still selling quite well. I'm not sure I remember exactly, but I seem to remember that we started writing in the late Fall of 2000, and finished some time in January or February of 2001. The book then appeared in stores some time in March or April of that year.

Writing this book was very fulfilling, because I actually ended up spending almost as much time working on the documentation as on the book itself, so, while I'm very pleased with the way that the book turned out, I'm even more pleased with the progress that we made on the documentation during that same time.

If you could start working on the book all over again, would you make any major changes?

This one is really easy to answer, because I sort of have started working on the book all over again. I'm using the book as the text book in the course that I'm teaching, and as I have gone along, I've made a few short notes about what I would like to be a little different, and I hand out these notes as an addendum to the text.

These few short notes are about 180 pages now.


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