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Getting Familiar with OS/400 Apache

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Last issue, I discussed IBM’s December 15, 2000 port of the Apache HTTP Server to OS/400 V4R5 and above (see “Web Strategies: OS/400 Apache and Its Effect on the HTTP Server for AS/400,” Midrange Network Expert, January/February 2001). Since then, I’ve had a chance to talk to members of IBM’s Apache group and get some answers to a few lingering questions about the port. Here’s some updated information about running Apache on your OS/400 V4R5 machines.

 

OS/400 Apache = Apache 2.0 Alpha

 

For the OS/400 Apache HTTP Server, IBM created a compiled OS/400-oriented version of the open-source alpha-level Apache 2.0 Web server code that is being provided by the Apache Software Foundation on the Apache HTTP Server Project Web site at http://httpd.apache.org. To prepare for the future, IBM used the alpha 2.0 version rather than base the OS/400 version on the Apache 1.3.14 source code, which is the current downloadable standard.

It’s important to note that IBM’s OS/400 Apache 2.0 version is based on a product that is still in development. So, while the OS/400 Apache HTTP Web server is a fairly complete product as delivered via PTF, it is still incomplete because it’s based on alpha source code. IBM will provide additional PTF refreshes to its OS/400 Apache implementation as the Apache Software Foundation moves the Apache 2.0 source code to beta and to its final released version. So, expect more OS/400 Apache PTF refreshes in 2001 based on additional changes the Apache Software Foundation makes to the open- source Apache 2.0 source code.

There are several important implications of this situation. Because the OS/400 Apache Server is still considered alpha code, at least from the Apache Software Foundation’s viewpoint, you probably should take a wait-and-see attitude before deploying it in a production environment. With additional PTFs coming as the core Apache code moves into its beta and finalized versions, bugs can and will develop. Moreover, the product itself could still change significantly before reaching a final stabilized version. My advice is to download OS/400 Apache for testing and familiarity purposes, but delay deployment until a finalized version appears.

 

Ordering, Installation, and Documentation

 

When news of the server was first released, it was assumed that the PTFs could be downloaded off the Internet and installed on an OS/400 V4R5 machine. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Group PTF SF99035 must be ordered directly from IBM for installation. (Note: This is a separate orderable and installable group PTF from the original HTTP


Server for AS/400 PTFs, which are contained in the SF99036 PTF group. You must install each group separately.) IBM provides additional information about installing and configuring the OS/400 Apache Server on the HTTP Server (powered by Apache) Web site at www.iseries.ibm.com/products/http/services/apache.htm, and on the IBM HTTP Server for AS/400 documentation center Web site at www.iseries.ibm.com/products/http/ docs/v4r5. The documentation center site covers installation, testing, trouble-shooting, and management for both the original HTTP Server for AS/400 and the OS/400 Apache server. The HTTP server documentation center functions in lieu of a manual for the OS/400 Apache server in much the same way that the iSeries 400 Information Center Web site at http://publib.boulder.ibm. com/pubs/html/as400/infocenter.htm is intended to replace the OS/400 manuals contained in the AS/400 Online Library Web site at http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/pubs/html/as400/ onlinelib.htm.

You must also be using OS/400 V4R5 or above to run Apache on your iSeries or AS/400 machine. The PTF will not load on earlier versions.

 

A New Configuration Utility

 

Along with the Apache group PTF, IBM is including a modified version of the Web-based configuration and administration utility that is currently being used to create and maintain HTTP Server for AS/400 Web server instances. Starting the new ADMINA HTTP server on your OS/400 V4R5 machine activates the new HTTP configuration and administration utility, which handles serving the new Web-based configuration forms. The ADMINA server listens for requests on ports 2002 (for nonsecured connections) and on port 2020 (for secured connections). This is in contrast to ports 2001 and 2010, which are used for nonsecured and secured connections when using the OS/400 ADMIN server to configure original HTTP Server for AS/400 server instances.

Although the ADMINA HTTP server is available in OS/400 V4R5 alongside the current HTTP administration server (ADMIN), IBM may combine the two servers into the ADMIN server in OS/400 V5R1 so that all the new functionality for configuring Apache server instances can be configured through the ADMIN server. Instructions for starting and using the ADMINA server to configure Apache server instances can be found at the HTTP server documentation center.

 

What About Apache Green-screen Configuration?

 

Another important point to note is that there are no green-screen configuration commands for Apache server administration, such as the Work with HTTP Configuration (WRKHTTPCFG) command, which is currently used to modify HTTP Server for AS/400 instances. All configuration must be done manually or in the updated version of the browser-based configuration and administration utility.

IBM also tells me there are no plans to provide green-screen configuration tools, although you can use the OS/400 Edit File (EDTF) command to edit Apache’s text-based configuration files.

For server activation, Apache server instances can be started from within OS/400 green-screens by using the Start TCP/IP Server (STRTCPSVR) command, the same way that you start HTTP server instances. You should be able to start Apache-based Web server instances from within a CL program or from inside your OS/400 startup program. Apache Web server instances can also be configured to autostart whenever TCP/IP is started in the same way that you set up your HTTP Server for AS/400 instances to autostart. The same controls that work for HTTP Server for AS/400 server instances will also work for Apache server instances.

 

Some Significant Apache-HTTP Server for AS/400 Differences

 

According to IBM’s documentation, there are other differences between the two servers that may affect your Web serving:


• The Apache server has a different set of directives than the original HTTP Server for AS/400. A list of Apache directives can be found in the HTTP Server (powered by Apache) > References > Directives option in the HTTP server documentation center.

• The Apache server does not provide a log reporting or Web-usage mining function that is similar to the one provided with the original HTTP Server for AS/400. For this built-in reporting functionality, IBM suggests that you obtain the WebSphere Site Analyzer tool. If you’re using this feature on your original HTTP Server for AS/400 configurations and want to migrate a configuration to Apache, this recommendation will set you back some. According to IBM’s WebSphere Site Analyzer Web site at www4.ibm.com/software/ webservers/siteanalyzer, the WebSphere Site Analyzer starts at $9,975 (ouch!). You may want to look at cheaper commercial or shareware products such as WebTrends Log Analyzer at www.webtrends.com, Analog at www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~sret1/analog, or Wadsack-Allen’s Report Magic for Analog at www.reportmagic.com. Additionally, there is a version of Analog that runs on OS/400 V4R4 machines; see UZAEMON’s Homepage Web site at http://homepage1.nifty.com/uzaemon/#download.

• The Apache proxy serving capabilities are slightly lower than those contained in the original HTTP Server for AS/400. The HTTP Server for AS/400 proxy server supports HTTP, FTP, and GOPHER requests, while the Apache proxy server supports only HTTP and FTP. This may be important to some shops.

• The Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) feature is available on the original HTTP Server for AS/400, but it is not available in the new Apache server.

 

Migrating Original HTTP Server Configurations to Apache

 

IBM is offering a migration utility for taking HTTP Server for AS/400 configurations and migrating them to Apache. That utility can be found inside the new configuration and administration utility. It remains to be seen how easily this utility allows you to migrate an HTTP Server for AS/400 instance to Apache. IBM reports that migration success may depend somewhat on what your configuration looks like. You may notice some issues with configurations that use HTTP server protection directives or map directives. Apache
doesn’t have a one-to-one equivalent for these functions, and that may throw off your migrations.

 

Where Is This Taking Us?

 

During October 2000’s Mach1 announcement, IBM stated that Apache is its strategic Web server for the future and that the HTTP Server for AS/400 would, at some point in the future, no longer be upgraded. In addition, IBM has also stated that, eventually, the original HTTP Server for AS/400 will not be available in a future version of OS/400. I asked my sources at IBM about the status of these statements and I was told that there are still plans to upgrade the HTTP Server for AS/400 in the upcoming OS/400 V5R1 release, but there are no plans for further enhancements after OS/400 V5R1. I was also told that the company is still looking to phase out the HTTP Server for AS/400, but there are no firm plans for when or how that will happen.

As I reported in the January/February 2001 issue, the bottom line is that Apache is here, and it is the future direction for Web serving on your OS/400-based machines. If you need to use your iSeries or AS/400 as a Web server, you may want to install Apache on your OS/400 V4R5 machine sometime within the next year to evaluate how it will affect your shop.


 

References and Related Materials

 

Analog, University of Cambridge Statistical Laboratory Web site: www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~sret1/analog

Apache Software Foundation Web site: http://httpd.apache.org

IBM AS/400 Information Center Web site: http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/ pubs/html/as400/infocenter.htm

IBM AS/400 Online Library Web site: http://publib.boulder. ibm.com/pubs/html/as400/onlinelib.htm

IBM HTTP Server Documentation Center Web site: www.iseries.ibm.com/products/ http/docs/v4r5

IBM HTTP Server (powered by Apache) Web site: www.iseries.ibm.com/products/http/services/apache.htm

IBM WebSphere Site Analyzer Web site: www-4.ibm. com/software/webservers/siteanalyzer

Wadsack-Allen Report Magic for Analog Web site: www.reportmagic.com

“Web Strategies: OS/400 Apache and Its Effect on the HTTP Server for AS/400,” Joe Hertvik, Midrange Network Expert, January/February 2001

WebTrends Web site: www.webtrends.com


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