|Developer||March 2001||Percent||April 2001||Percent||Change|
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The WebLogic server has dropped out of the table above because Netcraft’s HTTP requests failed for more than a million Namezero hosted websites this month. This appears to be because the requests are being blocked by Namezero. This accounts for the drop in Other share in this month’s charts.
Netcraft did not release a report for the March 2001 survey, which only saw small changes in share for the top servers. Instead this April 2001 survey has been released early. The small March 2001 changes are tabulated here should you wish to see them.
Around the Net
Tough times for domain registrars
The rate of growth of websites in the survey has shown a dramatic decline, reflecting the reduction in new domain name registrations now the dot-com bubble has burst, and perhaps the difficulty in finding good new names. The last quarter has seen the survey size grow by just over 1 million, or 3.9%, compared to over 4 million (44%) during the same three months last year, and just under 1 million (24%) during those months in 1999. Even allowing for the million or so Namezero WebLogic sites missing this month, this is a significant decline. This can be seen in the cumulative counts chart.
This is causing difficulties for some domain name registrars, with the ICANN accredited registrar BulkRegister, which has registered more than 2.3 million domain names, laying off 23 of their 33 staff, plus the CEO. register.com has just hired another CFO, so four CFOs, including an interim appointment, have been in that post during the last six months.
In the UK NetBenefit has made executive changes, reduced staff from 128 to 86, and refocused sales effort on high-end corporate customers in response to the slowing market and a loss of £2.5 million in six months. A small UK retail registrar DiscountDomains, which in fact used BulkRegister as wholesale registrar, has become insolvent and ceased trading.
It is not yet clear if these are isolated incidents, or signs of more widespread trouble coming. It may turn out that customers only too happy to use the cheapest registrars during the boom, will regret it. As well as the risk of registrar insolvency, customer service responsiveness might be affected by cost-cutting.
Many registrars are doing their best to sell additional services, like email and web hosting, but this is hard in an aggressive market-place, and good hosting provision is difficult to achieve on a large scale. However there should be somewhat better times for registrars within the next two years, if they hold on. With most domains on a two year renewal cycle, revenue should improve later this year, and through 2002, as cyclic renewal business from the boom times kicks in, even if some domain-name speculators do abandon their domains. Some additional business will be created when ICANN eventually brings the seven new generic top level domains into operation. While non-ASCII Internationalised domain names would expand the total marketplace, should the current trials go mainstream, much of the business would likely go to national registrars rather than large .com players.
Apache 2 beta released
The first Apache 2 beta was launched at the ApacheCon 2001 conference in March, one year after the first alpha. This beta gives people outside the project the first good look at Apache 2, and allows Apache module developers to start porting their modules. As such, we wouldn’t expect to see widespread deployment of the beta, and so far Netcraft has only seen 20 sites in the survey running the beta (Apache/2.0.14), mostly at apache.org.
The major enhancements Apache 2 brings are:
- Threading: to improve scalability. Apache can now run in a hybrid multiprocess, multithreaded mode.
- Better support for non-Unix platforms: with a new Apache Portable Runtime and multi-processing modules Apache can avoid POSIX-emulation layers, improving performance and stability.
- Filtered input/output modules: allowing input and dynamic output to be modified by a filter module, for example implementing simple advert inclusion and control.
- IPv6 Support: allowing the next TCP/IP version to be used on systems that support it.
The Apache Software Foundation had hoped to release Apache 2 beta late last year, but difficulties with filtered input/output and logging prevented this. In the event work at a two day hackathon just before Apachecon 2001 put the beta into a releasable state.
Commercial BSD on the move
The major purveyor of the FreeBSD OS CD-ROMs, Walnut Creek, is on the move again. Last year in March Walnut Creek merged into Berkeley Software Design Inc, commonly called BSDi, who have their own commercial version of BSD, BSD/OS. The talk was of BSDi sharing some BSD/OS technical innovations with the FreeBSD Project, and perhaps sharing some sources. Now BSDi is selling off the BSD/OS and Walnut Creek operations to Wind River, the VxWorks real-time OS company, and keeping its recently acquired Intel-based server hardware operation. As the BSDi name is going with BSD/OS, BSDi will rename itself iXsystems Inc after the iXtreme name for its rack-mount systems.
This appears to be a defensive move by Wind River, who must be concerned that embedded versions of Linux could make significant dents in the softer end of the real-time marketplace. As cheap hardware becomes more capable, it’s easier for general purpose OSs to be good enough for some embedded applications, particularly less-critical consumer products, where simpler development on a familiar general purpose OS can be a significant cost and time-to-market benefit.
The Wind River BSDi FAQ makes interesting reading.
While BSD sees very significant use by large Web hosters and ISPs in our survey, it has not achieved significant mindshare widely, as Linux has. This limits BSD’s successes largely to a few particular areas, with Internet infrastructure leading, starting from BSD’s position as a TCP/IP research vehicle giving BSD early on one of the most robust TCP/IP stacks. It will be interesting to see how successfully Wind River takes BSD/OS forward.
AltaVista switched OS for its primary website to Linux on March 29th, forsaking its previous owner’s Compaq Tru64 (nee Digital UNIX) OS. Tru64 lost its other major reference website Amazon to Linux last September, and prior to that Lycos switched to Windows last July. This leaves Tru64 with the Internet Movie Database, an Amazon acquisition, and the Vatican as its most prominent websites.
Compaq itself used Tru64 from August 2000 to February 2001 for the www.compaq.com front-end web server, but then reverted back to Windows. www.digital.com still stands by Tru64, but simply redirects to www.compaq.com.
The life-signs of the proprietary Unix brands, other than Solaris, are not good in our Web Server Survey. Is the end of most proprietary Unix flavours nigh?