The Apache web server is reported to have played a very important role in the development of the World Wide Web. It was the first alternative to the web server of the Netscape Communications Corporation, which is now called Oracle iPlanet Web Server, but is also competing with other servers when it comes to performance and functionality. The name Apache was inspired by and honors the war skill and strategy of the Native American Apache tribe, although the false notion that the name originates from the concept “a patchy Server”, referring to the server being a combination of software patches, is rather widespread.
An open community of software developers under the guidance of the Apache Software Foundation develops and maintains the server. Typically, Apache is run on a Unix-like system software, but it also works under Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Novell NetWare, OS/2, TPF and eComStation as well as on more commonly used operating systems such as Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows. Apache is open source software, which means it is generally free of charge and was not developed in order to make profit.
Since the founding of the Apache Software Foundation in 1995, their server software has become one of the most used server softwares worldwide with slightly less than 58% of all active websites and slightly more than 65% of all top servers being served by Apache as of March 2012.
Apache has a number of features which are usually grouped in modules that add to the basic functions of the server. Modules are usually based on programming languages such as Perl, Python, Tcl and PHP and can also be created by users. Apache ensures current HTTP standards and is supported by graphical user interfaces or GUIs. Password authentication as well as digital certificate authentication are also possible. The Apache web server includes a search engine as well as a tool for HTML authorization.
The performance of the Apache web server is comparable to other high-performance servers, although Apache does not seek to be the fastest in the field. Apache tries to reduce waiting time and process more requests within reasonable time frames.