Apache, the world's most popular Web server, is facing growing competition—but not from closed source alternatives such as Microsoft IIS. Instead, the market-share challenge comes from nginx, an open source Web server for Linux and Unix platforms whose popularity has been highlighted by Ubuntu's decision to provide equal support for nginx and Apache in the next release of the Ubuntu server platform.

Christopher Tozzi, Contributing Editor

January 6, 2014

2 Min Read
Ubuntu Linux Endorses Nginx Open Source Web Server

Apache, the world's most popular Web server, is facing growing competition—but not from closed-source alternatives such as Microsoft IIS. Instead, the market-share challenge comes from nginx, an open source Web server for Linux and Unix platforms whose popularity has been highlighted by Ubuntu's decision to provide equal support for nginx and Apache in the next release of the Ubuntu server platform.

Nginx is hardly new. First released in 2002, it has long enjoyed popularity as a somewhat lighter Web server for open source platforms than Apache, the venerated open source Web server that played a key role in making Linux such a formidable part of the data center back in the 1990s. Traditionally, however, Apache always has been at the fore of the open source server world, and holds the greatest market share by far among all Web servers, open and closed source.

But today's LAMPs (which refer to the Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP software stack that powers many enterprise servers) may become tomorrow's LNMPs (so much for articulate acronyms …) if nginx gains more widespread use. That seems to be the trend going into 2014, with the recent announcement by Ubuntu developers that the next Ubuntu release, version 1404, will provide official support for nginx as well as Apache.

Apache remains the defacto Web server solution in other major enterprise Linux platforms, including Red Hat (RHT) Enterprise Linux. But third-party nginx packages exist for RHEL users who want to install them.

Migrating from Apache to nginx is not a simple, click-and-go process. It requires some significant reconfiguration, since nginx employs a very different architecture from Apache's. Still, server administrators willing to make the switch could find better performance in areas such as memory usage and scalability.

And in the age of the cloud and massive virtualization, nginx's performance benefits could prove particularly attractive. Low memory footprints and the ability to perform well with both small and large numbers of connections are especially attractive features for virtualized cloud servers, whose physical memory resources can be limited and whose traffic often varies rapidly.

For now, nginx's market share remains under 15 percent, while Apache retains more than 40 percent. (Microsoft IIS, the leading closed source Web server, weighs in at around 28 percent.) But with Ubuntu's endorsement of nginx, as well as the server's deployment by big-name websites that include Netflix, Hulu, Pinterest, WordPress.com and GitHub, nginx is a project to watch in the new year.

Read more about:

AgentsMSPsVARs/SIs

About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like