Book Review: Apache Cookbook

The Book: Apache Cookbook
By Ken Coar & Rich Bowen
254 pages
1st Edition November 2003
ISBN: 0-596-00191-6
Price: $46.95 Cdn
Book Link: [link]

Chapter 1. Installation
Chapter 2. Adding Common Modules
Chapter 3. Logging
Chapter 4. Virtual Hosts
Chapter 5. Aliases, Redirecting, and Rewriting
Chapter 6. Security
Chapter 7. SSL
Chapter 8. Dynamic Content
Chapter 9. Error Handling
Chapter 10. Proxies
Chapter 11. Performance
Chapter 12. Miscellaneous Topics
Appendix A. Using regular expressions
Appendix B. Troubleshooting

O’Reilly’s Apache Cookbook is packed full of 100 recipes for securing, logging, and administering your Apache server. It addresses both Windows and “Unix-like” platforms. Information is clear and concise. In fact, a quick jaunt up to O’Reilly’s site shows that no official errata are on file. While the book is intended for use similarly to a “food cookbook” in that generally a person would not sit down and read this book cover to cover a la “War and Peace” but instead search for a “Recipe” that suited their immediate needs, I found myself paging through sequentially, discovering many things I didn’t realize that the Apache server was capable of. For the sake of completeness, in some cases, the authors have clearly indicated if a “problem” currently had no solution, and included information as to any known ongoing effort to resolve the problem discussed.

Throughout this book, you’ll find yourself nodding and seeing how many web masters have done the nifty things on their sites that you’ve been meaning to look into for your own server. Such as when an url is spelled wrong or in the wrong case, how to use “mod_speling” to make the server try to determine the desired address instead of just giving a 404 error.

Chapters 5 and 6 were my particular favorites. Security is always of concern when hosting a server of any kind. The Apache Cookbook offers 28 recipes to secure your server and put your mind at ease. Combine this with several recipes from Chapter 3 (Logging) and monitoring the status of your server”s security is a breeze. Chapter 5 was a particular favorite, and my main reason for being interested in this book in the first place. As a photographer, I have fought with the best way to protect copy-written material that resides on my server, but at the same time, not limit functionality of users of my website. The book addresses these and many other issues with relative ease. In fact, it describes several ways of doing certain actions, and also notes the potential pitfalls of each choice.

All in all, I found this book very informative and would have no problem recommending it to any Apache administrator, whether expert or novice.

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