Interview with Rich Bowen, co-author of Apache Administrator's Handbook
by Mirko Zorz - Wednesday, 11 February 2003.
So, what would I do differently? Well, these fall into two main categories. Apache 2.0 and examples.

Apache 2.0 seemed, while I was writing the book, to be a long way off. This is partially because I was not paying enough attention to the progress that was being made, and partially because it was in fact a long way off, and released before it was, in the opinion of many people, quite ready for that honor. In my notes for revision of the book, I've added a lot of Apache 2.0 stuff in nearly every chapter.

Second, regarding examples, it needs more of them. I learn by examples, as do many of the people that I teach. A book without examples is very frustrating to me, as a reader, and yet I have produced one, as an author. I think that what is there is very good, but it could be greatly reinforced by examples, and be even better.

One of my big goals last year was to ensure that every section of the Apache 2.0 documentation contained at least one example, and I'm pretty sure that I accomplished that goal. In the coming year, I have the same goal for my book.

By the way, the work that I'm doing on this book is, at least at the moment, not under contract with a publisher, so don't hold your breath for the arrival of the book. I'm not sure when it will actually happen.

In your opinion, where does Apache need the most development at the moment?

For this, I'd have to defer to the opinion of the actual Apache developers. While I consider documentation to be absolutely crucial to any software project, it is the code developers that really make the magic happen.

In the cvs repository, you'll find a file called STATUS. This lists all of the things that people feel are most important to be worked on, as well as bugs and other things that people are actively working on. I'd recommdend looking there.

If I could vote for a personal favorite, I'd really like to see the Perchild MPM working, on Apache 2.0

What advice do you have for people that are considering exchanging IIS for Apache?

Make sure you do your homework, and you know exactly what you are getting into. If your site is such that you can simply drop in Apache as a replacement for IIS, you're in the minority. I don't say this to discourage the move, but just to say that you need to make sure that everything that you are doing on your IIS server (cgi programs, ASP, FrontPage, various other dynamic content techniques) will have a replacement that you can move to.

And don't be hesitant to call in a consultant to help you make the transition. There are a number of companies out there with very talented people that can help you make the move.

What operating system(s) do you use and why?

Right now, I'm using Slackware Linux on most of my personal machines, and Red Hat Linux on all of my training classroom machines, and, on a trial basis, on one of my home machines.

At the office, our design people use primarily Mac OSX, with a few of them still OS9, and one of our designers uses Windows 98 and Windows XP. All of the servers at the office, and in our coloc facility, are running Linux, with most of them being Slackware and one being RedHat.

Why? Well, that's a more complicated question. Personally, having learned Unix on BSD, and, prior to that, on some old 3B2's that my college had, I find that Slackware feels more like the unix I "grew up with." Red Hat, on the other hand, makes it much easier to install new hardware, configure printers, and install new applications without having to think a whole lot about dependencies. For the training classroom machines, the biggest consideration was time required to reinstall after a class.

As for the other machines throughout the office, everyone uses what they are comfortable with, and what gets their work done fastest. I long ago got over the OS bigotry of my earlier days, and I primarily believe in using the best tool for a given job, with the understanding that the best tool for me will seldom be the best tool for everyone else.


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