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"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

Apache, the star of the Open Source World

By Fernando Ribeiro Corrêa
Originally published at OLinux

Olinux: Tell us about your career: college, jobs, personal life (age, birth place)

Brian Behelendorf: I Went to University of California, Berkeley, from 1991-1994. Didn't graduate, got distracted by a job at Wired Magazine in 1993 and later HotWired, where I was the Chief Engineer at their launch in 1994. Around the same time co-founded Organic Online, a web site design shop. Left there in mid-1998 and then co-founded Collab.Net, where I now work.

Olinux: Where Apache headquarters are located?

Brian Behelendorf: There really is no headquarters, we're distributed. We are officially incorporated in Delaware, and our fax line/phone # for our secretary is in Maryland, but there's only one guy there. We are truly distributed.

Olinux: What are your responsibilities at Apache? Do you have any other jobs?

Brian Behelendorf: My responsibility is to help speak for Apache to the outside world, to evangelize a bit and to help make sure things internally run smoothly. I'm on the board of directors.

Olinux: How is Apache organized? Try to give us an idea of how Apache works?

Brian Behelendorf: Politically, we are a membership-based organization, with an elected board of directors. The members are developers who are invited by existing members based on their contributions to the group.

Olinux: How the work is coordinated and managed?

Brian Behelendorf: The software development is done without much serious coordination; basically we all just share a CVS tree and check in changes and enhancements. We do split it up by project and module, and each small subgroup has their own way of deciding what new features to add (or remove). Again, very decentralized.

Olinux: And the servers, directories...

Brian Behelendorf: The server sits at my company's colocation facility in San Francisco. It chews up a small amount of bandwidth, and is actually rather fun to support.

Olinux: What about funding?

Brian Behelendorf: We don't require any money to operate; it's only recently that we've started getting donations, so we're still figuring out what we want to spend it on. =)

Olinux: Are there any hired employees?

Brian Behelendorf: No one is paid directly by the ASF to work on Apache. We may hire a system administrator at some point, and/or an admin for the non profit.

Olinux: How many people are involved?

Brian Behelendorf: About 150 people have CVS commit privileges, but there are probably a thousand or so who have actually contributed code at some point or another. The various mailing lists have somewhere ~40K subscribers on them.

Olinux: What are the main problems?

Brian Behelendorf: Main problems? Making the big-picture decisions, and sticking to them.

Olinux: What is the hardware available for the project? Who donated it?

Brian Behelendorf: The hardware is donated by me, it's just a rack-mount pentium server.

Olinux: Does any private company supports apache?

Brian Behelendorf: Lots of companies have donated money, but the most valuable donations are that of people's time; there are several companies, like IBM, Covalent, Apple, and others who have staff engineers who spend company time working on Apache, since those companies use Apache in commercial products.

Olinux: How much apache Foundation is expected to raise in 2000?

Brian Behelendorf: We have no specific target. Probably ~$50K.

Olinux: Everyone is volunteer?

Brian Behelendorf: Yes.

Olinux: Who are the main leaders of the project?

Brian Behelendorf: We have no big heros, or at least try not to. Each of our subprojects has lots of people who do a lot of hard work - Ryan Bloom on the core web server, for example, and Craig McClanahan on the Jakarta side of the house. But really we have no "main leaders", just the board of directors that set policy decisions for the ASF as a whole. Roy Fielding is the Chairman of the Board, and I'm the President.

Olinux: Are there a special ASF think tank that work on the project macro architecture?

Brian Behelendorf: Nope, it's all done over email, though we do meet in person from time to time.

Olinux: Does ASF has any key strategic alliances with companies as OReilly, IBM or any other ones?

Brian Behelendorf: They're not official alliances, but these companies do dedicate resources in the form of engineers' time towards things.

Olinux: How often and where the group responsible for key decision meet? those meets take place on any specific lace or over the internet?

Brian Behelendorf: We have Apache conferences about twice a year now, once in the US, once abroad. The next one is coming in October in London.

Olinux: What are the main projects involving apache are under way?

Brian Behelendorf: See

Olinux: How the development is coordinated? deadlines & guidelines established? is there a special testing procedures before the changes are added to the core code? are there any special quality control, auditing on code produced? what are the analysis and programming tools used?

Read my chapter in "Open Sources", It'll answer a lot of these questions.

Basically, each project (and each module under each project) have their own bylaws, but most run by consensus; and the more significant the change, the more discussion it generates. We don't do strict voting, though if one person feels that a particular solution is incorrect they can veto it. No special quality control or auditing or testing procedures, we let the public do that for us. =)

Olinux: What is the operating system used to run ASF? FreeBSD? Are there any situation when linux is used?

Brian Behelendorf: runs on FreeBSD. I'd say there are more Apache developers using Linux and developing on Linux than any other platform, though.

Olinux: What are the main steps toward a better software concerning apache development are still under way? are there any expected turn point in terms of future technology or procedures used? Let's say, some secret project that will replace apache in the future?

Brian Behelendorf: We do have an Apache HTTP Server 2.0 coming out soon - it's no secret, though, you can download an alpha from

Olinux: How did your group feel being offered the ACM 99 software award? What it represented? did it change something in terms of funding or international support for ASF?

Brian Behelendorf: It was very much appreciated - an award from the ACM means a tremendous amount. It made all the developers pretty happy, I think. It didn't change much in our public perception though.

Olinux: Recently, Apache website was hacked by good hackers otherwise it was said they could have done a lot of damage. What happened: what security roles were exploited to break through? what were the main lessons learned? How ASF changed its security policy?

Brian Behelendorf: The main lesson was that there was too much software installed on the system in an insecure way, partly because we'd given a few too many people root on the box without having a formal internal security policy. Now, only a few people have root.

Olinux: Who is ahead of the organization of ApacheCom Europe 2000? Fell free to make any interesting comments about the event?

Brian Behelendorf: Ken Coar ( can be contacted about the conference. We're all very excited about it.

Olinux: In you opinion, Microsoft shall be broken apart? Will this remedy be enough to stop its monopoly?

Brian Behelendorf: Clearly it sounds like they will, but I suspect that Microsoft will find a way to find another part of the software world to monopolize even after this. The .NET initiative sounds like it would be one way.

Olinux: In you opinion, how much Linux/Os community has grown and how do you oversee its future?

Brian Behelendorf: I think it will become ubiquitous; I believe it will provide serious competition to Windows, even on the average user's desktop.

Olinux: What are the main internet technologies that you consider extremely interesting or relevant advance for technology information?

Brian Behelendorf: The whole peer-to-peer space is interesting, of course - what companies like PopularPower are doing seems pretty important. What else... not much new has happened in the last 5 years, really. All we ever needed was portable code (which we have now with Java and some other languages) and portable data (XML). Now, it's a matter of actually building interesting things with them.

Olinux: Personally, what are your main plans for the future? Have any plans to start your own business or a new company?

Brian Behelendorf: I founded Collab.Net about 18 months ago and it's been a lot of work, so I have no plans to start another =) Nope, I'll be sticking with it for several years at least, it's a lot of fun helping teach other companies what open source means and how to use it.

Olinux: Send a short message to programers in Brazil that work in Free Software/ Opensource projects and to OLinux user's?

Brian Behelendorf: I encourage every Linux advocate in Brazil to spend time learning about how Linux, Apache, and other open source tools work, and I urge them to consider helping write them too. We need more of these tools internationalized, we need fresh perspectives, and there is no better way to ensure that your technological future won't be dictated by some soulless single company in the US. =) But while Linux is free, it will only survive if more developers continue to help develop it... so be sure and help out where you can. Thanks, hopes this works for you. Brian

Copyright © 2000, Fernando Ribeiro Corrêa
Published in Issue 57 of Linux Gazette, September 2000

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