If you're from a Windows background, then chances are that you've never actually played around with Linux and Apache. Apache is the most popular web server software in the world, and in this article Nakul's going to teach us exactly what Apache is, where to download it from and how to install it. If you've never used Apache before then you should definetly have a read of this article: it will have you up and running in no time!
Apache is piece of software that serves documents over the Internet. It is maintained by the Apache Software Foundation, and its correct name is the Apache Server Project. Apache has its own website at http://www.apache.org. The Apache Web server (for those of you who haven't heard of it) is arguably the most popular Web server in use on the Internet today.
While Microsoft contends that its Internet Information Server (IIS) is making huge gains, it's still struggling in many ways against Apache. The reasons for its struggle are not hard to find. For starters, Apache is cross platform whereas IIS is Windows only. Apache was first developed on the various Unix/Linux/BSD platforms and was just recently ported to the Win32 architecture. IIS, while a good web server on the Windows platform, is trapped in the "Windows-only" world. While IIS does indeed have many handy features, not everyone wants to run Windows for their Web server's OS.
Secondly, we have security issues. In the last twelve months, Microsoft has released dozens of patches to fix the various security holes and flaws in IIS. If you're running an un-patched version of IIS, then it's possible to start an instance of the command prompt on your IIS web server by passing a malformed URL to it through a web browser. Although not every piece of software can be completely free of security bugs and hacks, Apache has nowhere near (if any) as many holes and flaws as IIS does.
Thirdly, price. Many companies are budget centric, meaning that their entire business strategy is focused around how much they spend and what they spend their money on. If a company requires a dynamic and flexible web server setup, then they can either pay thousands of dollars for a copy of Windows 2000 server (which comes bundled with IIS) or they can download Linux and Apache for free. From a comparative viewpoint, Apache can do anything that IIS can do and vice-versa. So I guess it comes down to this: Is it really worth paying thousands of dollars for a copy of Windows 2000 server when you can pay $0.00 for a copy of Linux (such as RedHat or Mandrake) and Apache?