According to w3techs, 80% of websites and web applications are powered by open source web servers.
Open-source web servers are on the rise for so many years now. With the New Year 2021 upon us, it is the perfect time to talk about the 10 best open-source web servers to look out for this year.
Apache is no doubt the most worthy open-source web server so far, handling high loads of data while staying performant. However, a lot has changed with the emergence of new web server solutions. Many of them are particularly designed to meet the innovative needs of today’s tech world.
Best Open Source Web Servers in 2021
Let’s dive deeper into the 10 best open source web servers that will probably leave a mark on 2021:
NGINX is an open-source, high-performance web server that provides efficiency as a load balancer, IMAP/POP3 proxy server, and reverse proxy. Introduced by Igor Sysoev in 2004, Nginx has grown to become one of the most reliable web servers available today.
- Name and IP address-based virtual servers.
- WebSockets and pipelined connections.
- Asynchronous architecture to handle high loads of data.
- Error redirection and access control.
- Multiple SSI inclusions within one page can be processed in-tandem with SCGI and FastCGI servers.
Some of the most popular websites running on NGINX include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Adobe and this is one of the reasons why it is the most ideal web server for hosting high-traffic websites and beats Apache too.
Apache came into existence in 1995. It is an open-source web server built by the Apache Software Foundation that requires no introduction as it has been among the popular options for a free web server for several years. It is distributed under the Apache License version 2.
- URL rewriting and authorization access control.
- Static files handling, auto-indexing as well as content negotiation.
- Offer more than one load balancing mechanism.
- Default web server for CPanel shared hosting, making it easier to set up and change websites.
- Simple scripting through Lua.
Apache HTTP Server Project has outgrown many other web servers and continues to do so by powering over 36% of all the websites. Written in C language, it is a highly customizable web server with plenty of modules extending its functionality.
In fact, Apache also offers virtual hosting support that enables you to host more than one domain or website. For example, example.com, example.info, or example.edu.
It is a free open-source webserver particularly designed for speed-critical apps. The Lighttpd web server is very resource-efficient with CPU usage as it has a footprint of less than 1 MB.
- Efficient and effective event notification schemes, such as epoll and kqueue.
- Chroot support and authentication against the LDAP server.
- SSL/TLS support and virtual hosting.
- HTTP compression using the mod_compress module, and support for many other modules.
LIGHTTPD supports CGI, FastCGI, and SCGI for interfacing programs with the webserver. It also supports web applications written in various programming languages with a particular focus given to PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby.
Written in Go, Caddy is a powerful multi-platform web server that acts as a reverse proxy, load balancer, and API gateway. It supports HTTPS and takes care of SSL/TLS certificate renewals.
- Fast HTTP requests and lesser configuration with quick deployment.
- Complete support for IPv6 and HTTP/2 to allow quick HTTP requests.
- No installation required and portable executable.
- Serves static files in the available directory.
- Can be used as a library for other programs.
The lack of dependencies increases its portability among several distributions without any clash in the libraries. It’s a perfect server for running web apps.
The Caddy web server also supports the latest WebSockets technology in addition to virtual hosting, URL rewrites and redirects, markdown rendering, caching, and static file serving with compression.
Apache Tomcat is an open-source implementation of the Java Servlet engine, Java Expression Languages, and Java Server web pages. It is a great option for developers who are deploying Java-based applications.
- Highly flexible and lightweight.
- Provides an extra layer of security.
- Well documented.
- Latest IO capabilities and restructured clustering.
Apache Tomcat is not an ordinary web server like Apache or Nginx. It is a Java servlet that has extended functionality for communicating with Java servlets while simultaneously implementing technical specifications, like Java Expression Language (Java EL) and JavaServer Pages (JSP).
The biggest highlight of the MonkeyServer is the support that it provides for embedded platforms. Mainly, it targets Linux; however, it is designed for macOS too. In addition to a lightweight web server, it is also a development stack.
- Provides complete support for ARM processors.
- Apart from Linux, supported on macOS too.
- Less runtime.
- Access to basic authentication and some security rules.
The Monkey web server is an interesting server that has the potential to be actively developed. It works perfectly on Android, Raspberry Pi, and several other embedded platforms.
MonkeyServer has a relatively better active community as compared to other web servers so if you need any assistance, you won’t be disappointed.
OpenLiteSpeed is an open-source web server particularly developed for speed, security, and optimization. It is based on the LiteSpeed Enterprise web server addition and provides all the important features in the Enterprise edition.
- Native SAPI for PHP, which results in top-performance of the server.
- GUI-based admin interface.
- Control panel compatible
- Apache drop-in replacement
- CloudLinux integration
Apart from working as a web server, OpenLiteSpeed also functions as a load balancer and reverse proxy. It is available under the GPLv3 license and thus, is free to download. You get to enjoy high bandwidth speed and IP-based access control with the open-source web server.
Jetty is a highly scalable and lightweight Java-based web server and servlet engine. Its primary goal is to support web protocols such as HTTP, HTTP/2, and WebSocket with high-volume low latency, providing optimum performance with ease of use and compatibility that comes from many years of servlet development.
- Flexible and extensible.
- Developed for secure and scalable performance under loads of various simultaneous connections.
- AJP, JNDI, OSGI, and JASPI support.
Eclipse Jetty is a modern and fully async web server. It can accomplish awesome results with lots of HTTP connections and thousands of WebSocket connections.
- Powers 0.2% of all the websites.
- Highly secure and scalable.
- Provides a cross-platform runtime environment that enables developers to create all types of server-based apps and tools.
Node.js applies an event-driven architecture highly capable of synchronous I/O. Such design choices enhance scalability in web applications facilitating running real-time communication and browser games.
The major difference between Node.js and other web servers is that it is mainly a cross-platform runtime environment to develop network applications.
Cherokee is a highly efficient, fast, cross-platform, lightweight, flexible, and open-source web server that runs on Linux, Solaris, macOS, and Windows.
It provides strong support for many modern technologies, such as FastCGI, PHP, SCGI, TLS, SSI, and SSL encrypted connections, authentication, and load balancing.
- Supports content caching and video streaming.
- Server-side includes (SSI) and deflates compressions.
- Reverse HTTP proxy and htpasswd.
- LDAP and authentication via htdigest.
- Traffic shaping.
The Cherokee web server can be updated, modified, and extended to anything. It provides powerful administration with wizards to configure the web server to perform particular tasks or run applications.
The open-source web server also provides support for PHP through Ruby on Rails, ColdFusion, Django, Alfresco, Zend Engine, GNU Mailman, GlassFish, and many more.
To Sum Up
Our digital lives would not have been this easy and smooth without these powerful web servers. However, note that this is not an exclusive list of the 10 best open-source web servers. Although this is our pick of the 10 best open source web servers to use in 2021, your opinion might vary.
While we have tried to cover the best open-source web servers out there, if you feel we have left one – or many – that should have a place on this list, drop your comments.