Monthly Archives: February 2012

Apache 2.4

Just in case it’s news to anyone, yesterday saw the first major new release of the world’s most popular web server in just over six years.  Apache HTTPD 2.4 is now released!

The last major release was version 2.2 in December 2005, while version 2.0 was first released as stable in April 2002.  Why such a slow release cycle?

I guess one answer is that we have no marketing department breathing down our necks looking for press releases and big headline releases every six months.  So no great pressure to keep putting out half-baked releases.  This is indeed common amongst the best open-source projects: just look at how long the Linux kernel remained at 2.x, despite the constant very real need to update as hardware evolved under it!  Apache’s most credible rivals in the web server space show no inclination to inflate versions, either (though application servers do: perhaps that’s why HTTPD remains a minority platform in that space).

The other reason for so few releases is that they’re rarely necessary.  Apache’s modular framework means that substantial new features can be introduced without requiring any new release.  The only absolute rule of minor delta releases (like an upgrade from 2.4.1 to 2.4.2, or from 2.2.0 to 2.2.20) is that they preserve full back-compatibility, so your existing modules still work even if you don’t have the source code.  The ten years of Versions 2.0 and 2.2 saw many advances without fanfare.

I just dug up this text, from the preface to my book.  I was right when I wrote:

The current Apache release — version 2.2 — is the primary focus of this book. Version 2.2.0 was released in December 2005, and given Apache’s development cycle, is likely to remain current for some time (the previous stable version 2.0 was released in April 2002). This book is also very relevant to developers still working with 2.0 (the architecture and API is substantially the same across all 2.x versions) and is expected to remain valid for the foreseeable future.

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Disrepute

The media are taking great delight in naming Sir Fred Goodwin, now stripped of his knighthood.

Sir Fred is said to have brought the so-called honours system into disrepute.  In being dishonoured, he joins an altogether more select group: people convicted of serious criminal offence, or outed as Soviet spies.  Not that even serious crimes disqualify you: chattering classes may have questioned Jeffrey Archer’s peerage, but he’s just one prominent case in a system where honours for criminals are perfectly normal.

But there’s no suggestion he belongs in that group: rather he got super-rich as a leader of the credit boom, with a perfectly legal license to print billions backed by thin air.  Shouldn’t that put him firmly in the regular group: people whose honours are not in question?

Evidently what really brings the honours system into disrepute is not Sir Fred himself, but the odour of (deservedly) bad press that surrounds him and his obscene pension.  As usual, getting caught is the real crime.  He’s been scapegoated.

(Aside: his successor Stephen Hester is being scapegoated too: in the pocket, where it matters.  Well OK, he’s a long way from the breadline, but he’s an individual taking a hit on behalf of his ultra-bloated business.)

Do I feel sorry for Sir Fred’s dishonour?  No!
Do I sense gross establishment hypocrisy in the act?  Yes!

Sir Fred needed to be stripped not of the knighthood but of that pension: the reward for failure that everyone else can now trot out in support of their own demands – whatever those might be.  And maybe he should be joined by some of those who presided over the bubble and eventually gave him the pension rather than put his bank into administration where debts like that pension liability could’ve been capped.