Chapter 17. Server Operating System

The operating system sits between the hardware and the web server software, translating the web server’s request for services into hardware actions and delivering data from the hardware back up to the web server. The server hardware has a maximum performance that is fixed by its physical specifications. You can approach this maximum performance by appropriate configuration of the operating system. The question for web servers is how to configure the operating system to take requests from the network, find the correct file to return or run the correct program, and push the result back out to the network, all as fast as possible.

Except for a brief comparison of Unix versus Windows NT towards the end, this chapter focuses squarely on Unix. A survey at from April of 1999, admittedly a bit old but the most recent I could find, found that about 75 percent of all web sites run on Unix of one kind or another, with Microsoft OS’s accounting for another 24 percent. Among Unixes, the most common were Linux at 27 percent, Solaris/SunOS at 20 percent, and BSD at 16 percent.

Unix and the Origin of the Web

Networking has been central to the development of Unix. Unix was originally developed around 1970 as a research project by AT&T Bell Laboratories, building on multiuser and multitasking ideas from the Multics government research project of the 1960s. Since AT&T was barred from selling software because it was the U.S. telephone ...

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