Technology

Difference between Apache and Lighttpd

Main difference

The biggest difference is that Lighttpd does not have the same URL rewriting flexibility as Apache. Any URL rewrites should be placed directly in the Lighttpd configuration files in place of the .htaccess files found everywhere in Apache installations.

What is Apache?

Apache HTTP Server, colloquially called Apache, is the most widely used web server software in the world. Originally based on the HTTPd NCSA server, Apache development began in early 1995 after work on the NCSA code stopped. Apache has support for CGI / FastCGI. It is tested and its implementation has not changed in years. You can find documentation that is more than ten years old and still be valid.

What is Lighttpd?

Lighttpd is an open source web server optimized for speed-critical environments while being standards-compliant, secure, and flexible. Lighttpd supports X-Sendfile since version 1.5. Apache 1 does not support X-Sendfile. Lighttpd is distributed under the terms of the Revised BSD License, a copy-free variant of three clauses of the BSD License.

Key differences

  1. Nginx and Lighttpd are probably the two best known asynchronous servers, and Apache is by far the best known process-based server.
  2. Most tests show that there is an inherent performance gain in using Lighttpd over Apache.
  3. Apache has support for CGI / FastCGI. It is tested and its implementation has not changed in years. You can find documentation that is more than ten years old and still be valid. Lighttpd has support for CGI and FastCGI through the module
  4. Lighttpd supports X-Sendfile since version 1.5. Apache 1 does not support X-Sendfile. For Apache2, there is a third party module.
  5. Rewriting in Apache can be handled in a configuration (site level) or via override in the .htaccess state. In Lighttpd you are restricted to rewriting only via the configuration level, which means that for things like WordPress you will need to hardcode the rewrite rule in format.
  6. Lighttpd is distributed under the terms of the Revised BSD License, a copy-free variant of three clauses of the BSD License. This license option significantly reduces collaborative friction between Lighttpd code and that of other projects distributed under other licenses, and does not impose any notable restrictions on the development of Lighttpd-related software. Apache uses the Apache 2.0 license of the same name, a license that is sometimes considered “permissive” in the sense that it is an open source license that is not a copyleft license.
  7. Installing PHP is not as easy in Lighttpd as it is in Apache because there is no module for it.

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