Top 5 Best Open Source Web Servers

These days 70-80% of Websites are powered by Open Source Web-Servers. Web servers have evolved a lot since they were introduced first. In this article we will discuss the evolution of web servers as well as their history, technology and features.

According to Wikipedia, web server is server software, or hardware dedicated to running said software, that can satisfy World Wide Web client requests. A web server can, in general, contain one or more websites. A web server processes incoming network requests over HTTP and several other related protocols.

I have categorized these web servers based on their popularity and usage. So the most 5 popular web servers are as mentioned below.

  1. Apache Server
  2. NGINX
  3. Apache Tomcat
  4. Node.js
  5. Lighttpd

1. Apache HTTP Server

Apache Web Server

Apache http server, mostly called as httpd server or as simply Apache is the 2nd most popular web server on our list. It is a free and open-source web server as mentioned above. It was first introduced in 1995 by Robert McCool. Apache powers 29% of all websites running in 2019 and is the 2nd most popular server even today.

Apache runs on Linux distribution but the latest versions are also capable of running on MS Windows.  Apache also supports HTTP/2 through a new module, mod_http2.


NGINX Web Server

NGINX by far the most popular web server was introduced by Igor Sysoev in 2004.  NGINX was developed as an answer to the so-called C10K problem, which is shorthand for “how do you design a web server which can handle ten thousand concurrent connections?”. NGINX powers nearly 32% of all websites and applicatiobs which use Web-Server. NGINX also has a paid service called NGINX plus paid.

The best benefit of using NGINX is that it can also be used as a reverse proxy. We can keep Apache on front end of our website and keep using NGINX as a reverse proxy. And NGINX can also handle very large amount of website traffic.

3. Apache Tomcat

Apache Tomcat

Apache Tomcat is an open-source Java Sevelet Container, Java expression language which works as a web server. A Java Servlet is a technology which is used to create a web application. It is a java program that extends the capabilities of the servers and responds to the incoming requests. The best part is that it can respond to any requests. The most commonly implement web containers for hosting web applications on web servers and thus qualify as a server-side servlet web API.

Apache Tomcat provides a pure java web server environment in which java codes can run. Currently it powers 1% of websites.

4. Node.js

Node.js is a server-side JavaScript environment for network applications such as web servers. With a smaller market position, Node.js powers 0.2% of all websites. Node.js was originally written in 2009 by Ryan Dahl. The Node.js project, governed by the Node.js Foundation, is facilitated by the Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects program.

Node.js provides a pure node.js web server environment in which node codes can run.