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18. Server Software > The Evolution of Web Servers

The Evolution of Web Servers

While their basic function has remained the same, web servers have evolved quite a bit from over the years.

Servers Spawned from inetd

The first generation of web servers were just another Unix service launched on demand from inetd, which reads /etc/services on startup and listens to the ports specified. When a request comes in on one of inetd’s ports, it launches the program specified in /etc/services to deal with requests on that port. This requires calling the fork( ) and exec( ) system calls: fork( ), to clone inetd to get a process, and exec( ), to write over that process with another process that can service the request. This mechanism is intended to conserve system resources by starting up daemons only when they’re needed, providing better performance for everything else.


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