Whereas Apache 1.2 and 1.3 were based on the NCSA httpd code base, Apache 2.0 rewrote big chunks of the 1.3 code base, mainly to support numerous new features and enhancements. Here are the most important new features:
The APR uses the concept of memory pools, which significantly simplifies the memory-management code and reduces the possibility of memory leaks (which always haunt C programmers).
With I/O filtering in place, simple filters (e.g., data compression and decompression) can easily be implemented, and complex filters (e.g., SSL) can now be implemented without needing to modify the the server code (unlike with Apache 1.3).
To make the filtering mechanism efficient and avoid unnecessary copying, the bucket brigades model was used, as follows.
A bucket represents a chunk of data. Buckets linked together comprise a brigade. Each bucket in a brigade can be modified, removed, and replaced with another bucket. The goal is to minimize the data copying where possible. Buckets come in different types: files, data blocks, end-of-stream indicators, pools, etc. You don't need to know anything about the internal representation of a bucket in order to manipulate it.
The stream of data is represented by bucket brigades. When a filter is called, it gets passed the brigade that was the output of the previous filter. This brigade is then manipulated by the filter (e.g., by modifying some buckets) and passed to the next filter in the stack.
Figure 24-1 depicts an imaginary bucket brigade. The figure shows that after the presented bucket brigade has passed through several filters, some buckets were removed, some were modified, and some were added. Of course, the handler that gets the brigade doesn't know the history of the brigade; it can only see the existing buckets in the brigade. We will see bucket brigades in use when discussing protocol handlers and filters.
Apache 2.0 introduces the concept of MPMs, whose main responsibility is to map the incoming requests to either threads, processes, or a threads/processes hybrid. Now it's possible to write different processing modules specific to various platforms. For example, Apache 2.0 on Windows is much more efficient and maintainable now, since it uses mpm_winnt, which deploys native Windows features.
Here is a partial list of the major MPMs available as of this writing:
On platforms that support more than one MPM, it's possible to switch the used MPMs as the need changes. For example, on Unix it's possible to start with a preforked module, then migrate to a more efficient threaded MPM as demand grows and the code matures (assuming that the code base is capable of running in the threaded environment).
All these new features boost Apache's performance, scalability, and flexibility. The APR helps the overall performance by doing lots of platform-specific optimizations in the APR internals and giving the developer the already greatly optimized API.
The I/O layering helps performance too, since now modules don't need to waste memory and CPU cycles to manually store the data in shared memory or pnotes in order to pass the data to another module (e.g., to provide gzip compression for outgoing data).
And, of course, an important impact of these features is the simplification and added flexibility for the core and third-party Apache module developers.
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