The Apache Software Foundation has released Apache version 2.0, the latest version of its industry-standard, open-source server solution.

The release adds support for multithreading systems and more complete support for a range of operating systems. It took the collective of open source programmers three years to build.

“This was essentially a rewrite of the Apache Web server,” said Ryan Bloom, a lead-engineer who helped develop the new version. Bloom is vice president of the Apache Portable Runtime project, which was responsible for tuning Apache for use with multiple operating systems.

“From what I’m hearing, the performance improvements are significant,” said Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of systems software with research company IDC, noting the benefits of the system’s multithreading support. “They rethought the architecture, improved security, and enabled some clever performance-enhancing modules.”

Cross-platform support First released widely in the mid-1990s, Apache has been designed to work with roughly 50 versions of Unix as well as Windows, IBM’s OS/2, NetWare, and BeOS. It’s also built into Apple’s Unix-based Mac OS X operating system.

“If you have a very heterogeneous server environment, Apache is your choice because it can work on all of your platforms,” Bloom said

Apache’s support for multithreading systems changes the way Apache distributes work to the operating system, according to Bloom. For instance, when an end-user requests a Web page, Apache 2.0 divides up the work it takes to find the various images and text that make up that page. With the prior version of Apache, the server was typically unable to do several tasks at once.

Painless tweaking Apache 2.0 also aims to make it easier for users to upgrade and tweak the software without maintenance headaches. To this end, it supports the integration of SSL (Secure Socket Layers) and Perl into the Web server.

Apache 2.0 also supports WebDAV, improved HTTP proxy support, I/O (input/output) layering and filtering, and has more complete support for a full range of operating systems.

“Apache 2.0 is a more complete port to every operating system,” said Bloom. “Version 1.3 was focused on Unix, and other operating systems were afterthoughts.”

More information and the new version are available on the Foundation Web site.