Since Doug MacEachern introduced mod_perl 1.0 in 1996, he has had to tweak it with every change in Apache and Perl, while maintaining compatibility with the older versions. These rewrites have led to very complex source code, with hundreds of #ifdefs and workarounds for various incompatibilities in older Perl and Apache versions.
Here and in the rest of this and the next chapter we refer to the mod_perl 1.x series as mod_perl 1.0 and to 2.0.x as mod_perl 2.0 to keep things simple. Similarly, we call the Apache 1.3.x series Apache 1.3 and the 2.0.x series Apache 2.0.
Apache 2.0, however, is based on a new threads design, requiring that mod_perl be based on a thread-safe Perl interpreter. Perl 5.6.0 was the first Perl version to support internal thread-safety across multiple interpreters. Since Perl 5.6.0 and Apache 2.0 are the very minimum requirements for the newest version of mod_perl, backward compatibility was no longer a concern, so this seemed like a good time to start from scratch. mod_perl 2.0 was the result: a leaner, more efficient mod_perl that's streamlined for Apache 2.0.
mod_perl 2.0 includes a mechanism for building the Perl interface to the Apache API automatically, allowing us to easily adjust mod_perl 2.0 to the ever-changing Apache 2.0 API during its development period. Another important feature is the Apache::Test framework, which was originally developed for mod_perl 2.0 but then was adopted by Apache 2.0 developers to test the core server features and third-party modules. Moreover the tests written using the Apache::Test framework could be run with Apache 1.0 and 2.0, assuming that both supported the same features.
Many other interesting changes have already happened to mod_perl in Version 2.0, and more will be developed in the future. Some of these will be covered in this chapter, and some you will discover on your own while reading mod_perl documentation.
At the time of this writing, mod_perl 2.0 is considered beta when used with the prefork Multi-Processing Model module (MPM) and alpha when used with a threaded MPM. It is likely that Perl 5.8.0+ will be required for mod_perl 2.0 to move past alpha with threaded MPMs. Also, the Apache 2.0 API hasn't yet been finalized, so it's possible that certain examples in this chapter may require modifications once production versions of Apache 2.0 and mod_perl 2.0 are released.
In this chapter, we'll first discuss the new features in Apache 2.0, Perl 5.6 and later, and mod_perl 2.0 (in that order). Then we'll cover the installation and configuration of mod_perl 2.0. Details on the new functionality implemented in mod_perl 2.0 are provided in Chapter 25.
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