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Apache Software

Switching Painlessly from IIS to Apache? 29

Sheik Yerboutii asks: "The recent downtime caused by the Code Red and NIMDA worms has prompted my Manager to start considering moving away from IIS to Apache. I've been tasked with finding out just how difficult it will be to move to the new webserver. I've got to find out things like how to install and configure it (relatively easy, it's all documented at www.apache.org) but also, things like what do we de now that we've been working in VBScript ASP for about 6 moths?" We posted a similar question to this one, just over a year ago. Any changes or additions to the advice given in that discussion?

"I've read that Apache::ASP exists and that's got something to do with mod_perl but now I'm going in circles figuring out how to make this thing work. I also can't find straight answers on things like if we make the cut over, will we have to convert the VBScript ASP to Perl ASP?

Can anyone relay their experiences with cutting from IIS to Apache? Running ASP with Apache? Most importantly, what are the best resources available for Apache administrators? (hopefully something with a discussion forum)"

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Switching Painlessly from IIS to Apache?

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  • by SpanishInquisition ( 127269 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @03:33PM (#2348880) Homepage Journal
    To just write a worm for Apache, so that way people wouldn't have to switch.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As bad as the recent IIS worms have been, has your boss done a cost/benefit analysis of converting completely over to Apache? Depending upon how much your company has invested in VBScript ASP code, it may not be worth the extra investment to switch.

    Of course, if the codebase is relatively small, rewriting the ASP stuff in Perl or Python or C or PHP or... would be an easier task. (Not that I'd want to do it...)
  • Or... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by NetJunkie ( 56134 )
    Invest in better network admins so you won't have the downtime with IIS when these worms are released.
  • Apache::ASP (Score:4, Informative)

    by cwinters ( 879 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @04:53PM (#2349397) Homepage

    I assume you saw The Apache::ASP home [apache-asp.org], a link you can find on the mod_perl home [apache.org].

    You can also run ASP on Apache using ChiliSoft ASP [chilisoft.com], which seems to be owned by Sun now. I've had little experience with the latter, but it seems to work out of the box with existing ASP sites and also has a web admin utility, along with the warm and fuzzy feeling of paying lots of money for something :-)

    Apache and IIS are both pretty flexible, but Apache at its core is much simpler and forces you to specify what you want rather than having everything available by default and allowing you to stumble into what you might need. (Not that you'd do that, but I'll be a lot of sysadmins are wishing that IIS weren't so featureful right now...)


    • ChiliSoft ASP (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wesmills ( 18791 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @05:38PM (#2349692) Homepage
      ChiliSoft ASP is absolutely amazing. I moved several web sites from IIS to Apache, all of whom use FrontPage extensions and ASP, connecting to MySQL. The 3.6.0 release has a bundle install that will do Apache 1.3.12, FPSE 2000 (V4) and the ASP engine. Just let it run, copy your files over, and configure the DSNs with a handy web-based admin console.

      No, I don't work for them, but the $500 I spent was well worth it. If you want to see it in action, e-mail me privately and I'll give you a login to poke around.

    • It seems like ChiliSoft ASP would be a good purchase for RedHat or SuSE. That way they can opensource it and say, "See, our Apache webservers support ASP right out of the box."

      For that matter, I guess they don't even need to opensource it. They could include it as part of their package.

      In my experiences, the lack of ASP is the biggest turnoff for people using IIS but interested in switching to Apache. I know PHP is a good solution, but it takes a while to port hundreds of applications written in VBScript and Jscript.
    • Chilsoft was accquired by Cobalt shortly before they were accquired by Sun. Cobalt felt it would
      be nice to make there linux box seem even more
      like a windoze box.
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @05:09PM (#2349510) Homepage
    Is there a way to simply run ASP from within Apache for Windows?
    It would be a much simpler solution...
    • The first thing that springs to mind is an ASP -> PHP converter that I've heard of, called 'asp2php' [naken.cc].

      Perhaps a more 'correct' way of doing things would be to use the ASP-mimicing PERL functions (although I'm aware that this isn't exactly what you were asking for, it's the most 'neat' manner, if you really /have/ to use ASP-based nonsense).

      A search through Google is the most obvious place to look, however, which turns up, amongst others, a thread [phpbuilder.com] on PHPBuilder [phpbuilder.com], which suggests Apache::ASP [nodeworks.com], which, AFAICT, uses the abovementioned PERL module (given that it requires the Apache module mod_perl).


  • AFAIK... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @05:24PM (#2349610) Homepage
    The Apache::ASP will, AFAIK, only work with PERL ASP code. ChiliSoft will do VBScript ASP code.

    i.e. you either use ChiliSoft or do a rewrite of your code base.

    The ActiveScripting people have some good options under Windows that might be helpful if you want to maximize code reuse.
  • asp2php (Score:3, Informative)

    by JumpSuit Boy ( 29166 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @05:36PM (#2349680) Homepage
    There is an app called asp2php that claims to convert 90% of asp/vbscript to php including the DB stuff. It can be found at


    I have not used it but it does seem to be updated.
    • ... takes how much time?

    • Re:asp2php (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      i tried asp2php at a place where i used to work. it does really well on most ASP, but for me anyways it barfed on things like ActiveX and DB things. my job at this place was to convert a massive amount of ASP(100-200 pages, some were 600 lines long) to PHP and it took about 3 months(i had never seen ASP before). When it was all said and done the PHP ran more reliably and faster than the comprable ASP... even under IIS and the switch to Apache/Linux was even more dramatic. I think that the time that i spent doing the conversion was well worth it.
  • In the thread about the Gartner group recommending moving away from IIS [slashdot.org], JediTrainer had some solid migration experience [slashdot.org] that you might find interesting.
    • by JediTrainer ( 314273 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @08:13PM (#2350474)
      Heh - you beat me to it! Good job!

      I was quite serious about that post. I made it sound easy (and, well - it wasn't THAT hard). The hardest part was for that 8 months the work was more difficult. We had to implement nearly everything from scratch again, which was a bit of a pain (ie: replacing the working and debugged with new untested code).

      The advantage, however, was that because we were effectively rewriting the application and phasing out the old one, we had the opportunity to not make the same mistakes that had been left in the old ASP/COM version of our program. What we lost in time porting the app we gained in program efficiency and ease of maintenance later (or, for us, now). Keep in mind that I stuck my neck out on the line - the bosses would have had my head had this plan backfired. This app was in production the entire time during the conversion - 100% uptime and new components were phased in over this period of time.

      Before you start on anything like this, do take the time to carefully plan your approach (technologies, API layout, modularization, maintaining flexibility etc). I spent about a month's time planning how my team was going to solve this conversion project, and this time has paid off tenfold in the end. I can honestly say that we'd already have been dead had we stuck with the old model - the workload with the amount of staff we have, along with the relative unmaintainability and inflexibility of the old code (we're seeing a lot of demand for customization to our app), would have made it impossible to keep up. Properly designed modules made customization a breeze - simply extend a couple of classes and throw in custom code for that customer.

      If you have more specific questions, I'd love to help give you some insight. Obviously I'd be under some NDA so I can't reveal exactly what our app does, but I can certainly point you in the right directions for accomplishing what you want to do. Send a note to arozeluk at home period com.
  • In theory... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Walles ( 99143 ) <johan,walles&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @03:01AM (#2351508)
    ... you could be able to use ASP2PHP [naken.cc] while staying in a familiar (Windows/IIS) environment as long as possible:
    • Install PHP [php.net] on your IIS server.
    • Convert your ASP to PHP using ASP2PHP and get it running on Windows/IIS/PHP.
    • Install Apache [apache.org] with PHP on the Windows box. Get your site running on Windows/Apache/PHP.
    • Install a new box with some securish Unix lookalike [openbsd.org] or other [debian.org] and move the site over.
    As I have never attempted anything like this it may or may not work for you. However as ASP2PHP is GPL:ed [naken.cc], at least downloading it and giving it a try should be quite doable. If you have any native Windows code (aka "vendor lock in"), you'll probably have to re-write it though.

    Whose idea was it to put Windows servers on the 'net in the first place, anyway?

    Cheers //Johan

    • I made the conversion from IIS to Apache more than a year ago. A hard drive failure presented a good opportunity to make the switch. I was luckily in that the dynamic portion of the site was already written in php3. (Thank goodness someone else persuaded me in using php over ASP.)

      I have read some good comments but here are my issues/problems with my conversion.

      Case & filenames I never realized that this could be that big of a problem. When moving the site to Apache and Linux, I was faced with converting links and file names to the same case. The other issues you might have are references to Default.htm instead of index.html.

      php3->php4 I found minor issues with some of the php3 scripts when running under php4. So I had to look at them and do some tweaking.

      I believe that you and your company will be happier in the end by switching over to Apache and php or perl. It will give you more options if you decide to switch the operating system again.


      • Case-sensitivity is a problem, and fixing it requires either brute force mucking or some extremely in-depth knowledge of sed and awk.

        But the Default.htm thing can be fixed by telling Apache to include that file in its DirectoryIndex list and then symlinking to index.html.

        in httpd.conf:
        DirectoryIndex index.html index.php index.htm index.shtml index.cgi Default.htm default.htm index.php3

        in your webroot:
        ln -s index.html Default.htm

  • Check out http://www.halcyonsoft.com/. They wrote ASP in Java - very portable.

    From their home page:

    "Are you looking to banish Code Red and Nimda forever by moving your ASP apps to a non-IIS server?

    Instant ASP runs on ANY Java-enable platform from a Linux box to an S/390 and has NONE of the security vulnerabilities of IIS..."
  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @11:44AM (#2352725) Journal
    The non-profit that I work for can't afford to add a bearded Unix guy to the payroll. The IT staff is me and couple people who mainly know Windows and a little Netware.

    The rest of the group would rather just keep patching IIS every couple weeks, because the setup is trivial point and click. Twiddling with .conf files doesn't excite them.

    • Why hasn't anyone else responded to this??

      I think this applies to a lot more places than people might think. I was in a similar situation once. (just a tangent, but like many new non-profits, it started eating its young, so I bailed when the chance came to work for a more stable non-profit, so never got around to switching the server from an overworked Mac running ASIP to a linux box)

      Apache, Linux, etc.. all sound like great options to cash-strapped non-profits, but the knowledge & skills required are often insurmountable odds. There really needs to be better support out there for just this sort of thing. Linuxnewbie.org is a nice start, but when you're the only IT person, you just don't have the time to read every man page out there (and all the subsequent docs those require just to make any sense of them) on top of everything else you're doing.
    • The obvious answer is to grow a beard. (smirk)

      There is not a large need to fiddle with .conf files for apache. Apache is available as a RPM that is easily installable and upgradeable. There are several Apache config programs that you can use (comanche [comanche.org] leaps to mind...just look on freshmeat.net).

      Many people think that Unix systems only have text config utilities. This is basically untrue. Windows has the registry, which is recommends that most people don't touch. Unix has text files, which there are GUIs to configure most of the major apps. I don't see it as anything but a perception problem.

      • Apache is available as a RPM

        Whoa there. I'm going to have a hard enough time arguing the case for Apache by itself. No way I'm going to even mention Linux, not right now. If anything, we'd start with Apache for NT and consider a better OS next year.

        Any GUI configurators available for this?
    • The book "the complete FreeBSD" has a section on setting up Apache, as well as other popular apps on FreeBSD.

      So its a matter of finding a good book on your desired distribution.
    • If its non-profit org then how about volunteers ? If there's someone keeping the hardware up and running i bet there's people that are more than willing to add few sites to their resumè. Unless you arent running website for kkk, and you are not running on a minute-timeline, even i can take care of few apache boxes running unix. And yeah, i have a beard...
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @12:05PM (#2352831)
    I recently received the ASA (American Society of Appraisers) email newsletter. Someone wrote an article talking about the recent Nimbda and WTC.EXE attacks and how we should be careful to update our virus software, not open attachments, etc. She also mentioned the Gartner Group recommendation. However, no alternatives to IIS were discussed. I sent off an email talking about Apache's strength and popularity over IIS. I also referenced this discussion in my email. Here is the text of what I wrote:

    Thank you for writing your informative article regarding recent computer virus and worm attacks in the ASA BV E-Letter. Since a number of valuation analysts sometimes find themselves administering the corporate network (as two associates do at my company), the tips you provided and the accompanying links will be very helpful. I took notice to one particular passage in your article:

    "On September 25, 2001, the research group Gartner warned enterprises to
    'immediately' replace their Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS)server software with a more secure server application."

    I have been reading about Gartner's recommendation through various news outlets, but no one ever seems to go on and actually talk about alternatives. I would like to offer you, and any other E-Letter readers that may ask, some information on at least one alternative.

    The Apache Software Foundation (www.apache.org) develops the Apache HTTP (web) Server. Here is an excerpt from their "about" page that discusses their overall mission:

    "The Apache Project is a collaborative software development effort aimed at creating a robust, commercial-grade, featureful, and freely-available source code implementation of an HTTP (Web) server. The project is jointly managed by a group of volunteers located around the world, using the Internet and the Web to communicate, plan, and develop the server and its related documentation. These volunteers are known as the Apache Group. In addition, hundreds of users have contributed ideas, code, and documentation to the project. This file is intended to briefly describe the history of the Apache Group and recognize the many contributors."

    Apache is actually the number one used web server on the internet. According to Netcraft, an organization that surveys the internet and collects web server and usage statistics, Apache held an approximate 60% market share of active web sites as of August 2001, versus an approximate 28% market share for Microsoft's IIS. Survey results here: http://www.netcraft.com/survey/ This survey includes over 30 million web sites and does not dilineate between corporate use, personal use, Fortune 500/100 companies, etc. (as some other surveys do).

    In addition, Apache (especially when used in conjunction with UNIX-based operating systems) tends to provide a more secure web server solution. A recent Ziff-Davis (ZDNet) article from July 20 discusses the security robustness of Apache over IIS. Here is the link: www.zdnet.com/eweek/stories/general/0,11011,279286 0,00.html

    Finally, I refer you to this link: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/09/25/194204 Slashdot.org provides an open forum to discuss current events, news articles and various topics, all loosely tied to their relevance to information technology. The topic of this particular link is "Switching Painlessly from IIS to Apache?" A network administrator has received a mandate from management to explore a systems migration from IIS to Apache, largely due to the recent Code Red and Nimda attacks. The discussion that follows provides a plethora of informative, insightful and interesting comments.

    Again, thank you for writing your article and I hope that some of the information I have provided you today will be helpful to our industry colleagues.

    Anyone in a similar situation is free to copy this letter and mark it up appropriately for their needs.

  • Well there is the PerlScript option
    (which would have been a more powerful thing to be writing ASP in on IIS anyways ;-) )

    Or there's non ASP, PHP

    But more to your interest might be the idea that was kick aound awhile ago on the mod_perl list
    (that some peple started implementing I belive) of a filter for Apache::ASP that would do a cached JIT VbScript->Perl translation.

You must realize that the computer has it in for you. The irrefutable proof of this is that the computer always does what you tell it to do.