Web Watch: A Survey of Web Server Software Used by UK University Web Sites

Brian Kelly with an update of his survey of server software used by central Web sites in UK Universities.

A survey of Web server software used on UK University Web sites was carried out in October 1997 and the findings were reported in Ariadne issue 12 [1]. The survey was repeated in September 2000 and the updated findings published in Ariadne issue 21 [2].

The survey was repeated in November 2002 and the findings are published in this article.

Current Survey

The survey was carried out on 21th November 2002. This time the survey made use of the HTTP header Wizards tool provided by the University of Dundee [3]. Unlike the Netcraft tool used in the previous survey the University of Dundee's tool provides live access to the Web server being analysed. The tool also provides an attractive display of the findings, as illustrated below.

Figure 1: The University of Dundee's HTTP Header Analysis Tool
Figure 1: The University of Dundee's HTTP Header Analysis Tool

Current Findings

A summary of the findings is given in the following table.

Table 1A: Server Summary
Apache 96 58.9%
MS IIS 57 35.0%
Netscape 4 2.5%
(Novell) Netware 2 1.2%
Mediasurface 1 0.6%
WebSite 1 0.6%
NCSA 1 0.6%
Not Given 1 0.6%
TOTAL 163 100%
Table 1B: Version Summary
Apache v1.3.* 86 52.8%
Apache v2.* 4 2.5%
IIS v3.* 2 1.2%
IIS v4.* 23 14.1%
IIS v5.* 32 19.6%
Other 16 9.8%
TOTAL 163 100%
Table 1C: OS Summary
Unix 90 55%
Microsoft 59 36%
Other/Unknown 14 9%


Web Server Software

The Apache Web server software is still the most widely used server. This is not surprising, and reflects the global popularity of the Apache software. Since the Web server software surveys began usage of Apache has grown from 48 in October 1997, 62 in July 1998, 95 in 2000 and now 96.

Microsoft's IIS Web server software has shown a steady growth in popularity, from 13 in October 1997, 20 in July 1998, 40 in 2000 and now 57.

The growth in the popularity of Microsoft since the last survey has been at the expense of older server software such as CERN, SWS and WebStar (which are now not longer in use) and NCSA and WebSite (each used by one institution). Use of the Netscape server has also shown a significant decrease, from 13 in October 2000 to four today.

The findings reflect the global findings reported in the Netcraft's regular surveys of Web server software usage [4] although usage of Microsoft Web server software appears to more popular in the HE sector (58.0% compared with 28.7% in Netcraft's November 2002 survey).

Versions Of Web Server Software

Version 1.3 of the Apache Web server software is still the most widely used (86 occurrences); the latest version, version 2.0, is used in only four institutions.

In contrast users of Microsoft's server software are making use of the latest version: version 5.0 is the most widely used (32 occurrences) with 23 using version 4.0 and only two using version 3.0.

Analysis Of HTTP Headers

A summary of unusual HTTP headers was recorded during the survey.

Six organisations were using Web server software which supported the HTTP/1.0 protocol, rather than the well-established HTTP/1.1.

One organisation sends PICS information in the HTTP headers. PICS can be used to provide machine-understandable information on use of content which is inappropriate for children.

One organisation sends P3P information in the HTTP headers. P3P can be used to provide machine-understandable information on the Web site's privacy policies.

In six cases the HTTP message "X-Pad: avoid browser bug" was sent. This was an unannounced change to Apache version 1.2b9 which provided a fix for a bug in Netscape versions 2.x, 3.x and 4.0b2.

Twenty-one servers set a cookie in the HTTP headers.

In one (and possibly two) cases the HTTP header was not properly terminated (by two carriage return/life feed characters). This may cause interoperability problems - e.g. indexing software treating the entire Web page as a HTTP header, and not indexing any content.

Appendix 1: Full Findings

A summary of the findings is given in the following table.

Table 2: Web Server Analysis Of UK University Entry Points
  Institution Web Server Software Comments Try It
1 Aberdeen Apache/1.3.23 (Unix) PHP/4.2.2 mod_ssl/2.8.6 OpenSSL/0.9.4   [Check]
2 Abertay Dundee Microsoft-IIS/4.0 Sets cookies [Check]
3 Aberystwyth Apache   [Check]
4 Anglia Polytechnic University Apache/1.3.23 (Unix) PHP/4.2.1   [Check]
5 Aston Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.2.3 mod_ssl/2.8.11 OpenSSL/0.9.6g   [Check]
6 Bangor Apache/1.3.23 (Unix) mod_jk/1.1.0 PHP/4.1.1 mod_ssl/2.8.6 OpenSSL/0.9.6a Sets a cookie [Check]
7 Bath Spa Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Gives PICS label [Check]
8 Bath Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 DAV/1.0.2   [Check]
9 Queen's University of Belfast Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.3 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6g   [Check]
10 Bell College Microsoft-IIS/3.0 Uses HTTP/1.0 [Check]
11 Birkbeck College Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
12 Birmingham Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) mod_gzip/ DAV/1.0.3 PHP/4.2.3   [Check]
13 Bishop Grosseteste College Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
14 Bolton Institute Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) Chili!Soft-ASP/3.6.2 PHP/4.2.2 mod_perl/1.24 ApacheJserv/1.1.2   [Check]
15 Arts Institute at Bournemouth Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
16 Bournemouth Apache/1.3.9 (Unix)   [Check]
17 Bradford Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.2 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6e   [Check]
18 Brighton Apache/2.0.42 (Unix) Uses Apache 2.0 [Check]
19 Bristol Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_auth_pam/1.0a mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6c   [Check]
20 Brunel Apache/2.0.39 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.0.39 OpenSSL/0.9.6e Uses Apache 2.0 [Check]
21 Buckinghamshire Chilterns Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
22 Cambridge Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_perl/1.24_01   [Check]
23 Institute of Cancer Research Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/4.0.4pl1 mod_perl/1.24_01   [Check]
24 Canterbury Christ Church Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
25 Cardiff Apache   [Check]
26 University of Wales Institute, Cardiff Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
27 University of Central England Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6 Has message saying X-Pad: avoid browser bug [Check]
28 University of Central Lancashire Apache/1.3.6 (Unix)   [Check]
29 Central School of Speech and Drama Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
30 Chester College Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 mod_layout/3.2   [Check]
31 University College Chichester Apache/1.3.20 (Win32) Apache on Windows platform [Check]
32 City University Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
33 Courtauld Institute of Art Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) DAV/1.0.3 PHP/4.0.0   [Check]
34 Coventry Apache/1.3.6 (Unix)   [Check]
35 Cranfield Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.1 mod_perl/1.27 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9 Provides P3P file [Check]
36 Dartington College ? Not specified [Check]
37 De Montfort Apache/1.3.27 Sets cookies [Check]
38 Derby Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
39 Dundee Apache/2.0.39 (Unix) Uses Apache 2.0 [Check]
40 Durham Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 mod_ssl/2.8.9 OpenSSL/0.9.6g   [Check]
41 East Anglia Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) AuthPostgreSQL/0.9.5 mod_perl/1.21_03   [Check]
42 University of East London Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
43 Edge Hill College Apache/1.3.20 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2   [Check]
44 Edinburgh College of Art Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) mod_ssl/2.8.5 OpenSSL/0.9.6 mod_perl/1.24_01 mod_throttle/3.1.2   [Check]
45 Edinburgh Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/3.0.18 mod_perl/1.27   [Check]
46 Essex Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
47 Exeter Apache/1.3.23 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2   [Check]
48 Falmouth College Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
49 Glamorgan Apache   [Check]
50 Glasgow Caledonian Apache/1.3.3 (Unix) FrontPage/   [Check]
51 Glasgow School of Art Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
52 Glasgow Apache/1.3.12 (Unix)   [Check]
53 Gloucestershire Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
54 Goldsmiths College Apache/1.3.26   [Check]
55 Greenwich Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_perl/1.24 ApacheJserv/1.1.2   [Check]
56 Harper Adams Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
57 Heriot-Watt Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) mod_ssl/2.8.5 OpenSSL/0.9.6 DAV/1.0.2 PHP/4.1.2 mod_perl/1.24 mod_throttle/3.1.2   [Check]
58 Hertfordshire Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
59 Huddersfield Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) PHP/4.0RC2   [Check]
60 Hull Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) Resin/2.1.1 PHP/4.2.2 mod_ssl/2.8.9 OpenSSL/0.9.6d   [Check]
61 Imperial College Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
62 Institute of Education Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
63 Keele Apache/1.3.26   [Check]
64 Kent Institute of Art and Design Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
65 Kent Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 AuthMySQL/2.20 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6g   [Check]
66 King Alfred's College Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
67 King's College London Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) DAV/1.0.3 PHP/4.0.0   [Check]
68 Kingston Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
69 Lampeter Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
70 Lancaster Apache/1.3.26   [Check]
71 Leeds Metropolitan University Apache/1.3.9 (Unix) PHP/4.0.5 mod_perl/1.21   [Check]
72 Leeds Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6   [Check]
73 Leicester Netscape-Enterprise/6.0   [Check]
74 Lincoln Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
75 Liverpool Hope NetWare-Enterprise-Web-Server/5.1   [Check]
76 Liverpool John Moores University Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
77 Liverpool Apache   [Check]
78 London Business School Netscape-Enterprise/3.6 SP2   [Check]
79 London Guildhall University Apache/1.3.20 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6 Dispays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message [Check]
80 London Institute Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) (SuSE/Linux) mod_perl/1.21 PHP/4.2.3 mod_ssl/2.6.2 OpenSSL/0.9.5   [Check]
81 University of London Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
82 London School of Economics Apache   [Check]
83 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/4.1.2 mod_perl/1.24_01   [Check]
84 Loughborough Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
85 Luton Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 Dispays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message [Check]
86 UMIST Apache/1.3.23 (Unix)   [Check]
87 Manchester Metropolitan University Apache/1.3.20 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6   [Check]
88 Manchester Apache/1.3.9 (Unix) Debian/GNU PHP/4.0.3pl1 AuthMySQL/2.20   [Check]
89 University of Wales College of Medicine Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
90 Middlesex Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
91 Napier Microsoft-IIS/4.0 Sets cookies [Check]
92 Newcastle Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2   [Check]
93 Newman College Apache/1.3.14 (Win32) Apache on Windows platform [Check]
94 Newport Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
95 North-East Wales Institute of Higher Education Novell-HTTP-Server/3.1R1   [Check]
96 University of North London Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
97 University College Northampton Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.0   [Check]
98 Northern School of Contemporary Dance Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
99 University of Northumbria Mediasurface/4.0 Uses HTTP/1.0 [Check]
100 Norwich School of Art and Design Microsoft-IIS/3.0 Uses HTTP/1.0 [Check]
101 Nottingham Trent University Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Uses HTTP/1.0 [Check]
102 Nottingham Apache   [Check]
103 Oxford Brookes NCSA/1.5.2 Uses HTTP/1.0 [Check]
104 Oxford Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) Debian GNU/Linux   [Check]
105 Paisley Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
106 Plymouth Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
107 Portsmouth Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
108 Queen Margaret University College, Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
109 Queen Mary and Westfield College Apache/1.3.27 (Unix)   [Check]
110 Ravensbourne College Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
111 Reading Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 mod_perl/1.26 mod_ssl/2.8.11 OpenSSL/0.9.6g   [Check]
112 University of Wales, Registry Microsoft-IIS/4.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
113 Robert Gordon University Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets cookies [Check]
114 University of Surrey, Roehampton Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
115 Rose Bruford College Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
116 Royal Academy of Music Apache/1.3.19 (Unix)   [Check]
117 Royal Agricultural College Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
118 Royal College of Art Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
119 Royal College of Music Microsoft-IIS/4.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
120 Royal Holloway Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
121 Royal Northern College of Music Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
122 Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Apache/1.3.20a (NETWARE) Apache on Netware [Check]
123 Royal Veterinary College Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Server failed to terminate HTTP headers correctly [Check]
124 St Andrews Apache/1.3.27 (Unix)   [Check]
125 St George's Hospital Medical School Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.0   [Check]
126 College of St Mark and St John Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
127 St Martin's College Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) AuthMySQL/2.20 PHP/4.2.2 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6a   [Check]
128 St Mary's College Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
129 Salford Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.2.3   [Check]
130 School of Oriental and African Studies Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.2 Displays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message [Check]
131 School of Pharmacy WebSite/3.1.11 Uses HTTP/1.0 [Check]
132 Scottish Agricultural College Microsoft-IIS/4.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
133 Sheffield Hallam Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_auth_pam/1.0a mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6c   [Check]
134 Sheffield Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_gzip/ PHP/4.1.2 mod_fastcgi/2.2.8 mod_ssl/2.8.9 OpenSSL/0.9.4   [Check]
135 South Bank University Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
136 Southampton Institute Microsoft-IIS/4.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
137 Southampton Apache/1.3.23 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/4.2.2   [Check]
138 Staffordshire Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6 ApacheJServ/1.0 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6g   [Check]
139 Stirling Apache/1.3.26 (Win32) Apache on Windows platform [Check]
140 Strathclyde Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
141 Sunderland Apache/1.3.26 (Unix)   [Check]
142 Surrey Institute of Art and Design Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
143 Surrey Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.1 Displays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message [Check]
144 Sussex Apache/2.0.43 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.0.43 OpenSSL/0.9.6g PHP/4.2.4-dev Uses Apache 2.0 [Check]
145 Swansea Institute Microsoft-IIS/4.0   [Check]
146 University of Wales, Swansea Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.2 FrontPage/   [Check]
147 Teesside Microsoft-IIS/4.0 Sets cookies [Check]
148 Thames Valley University Netscape-Enterprise/3.6 SP2   [Check]
149 Open University Netscape-Enterprise/4.1   [Check]
150 Trinity College of Music Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
151 Trinity College, Carmarthen Microsoft-IIS/4.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
152 Trinity and All Saints College Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
153 Ulster Apache/1.3.26   [Check]
154 University College London Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6b   [Check]
155 Warwick Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.0.5 DAV/0.9.15 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6d mod_perl/1.27   [Check]
156 Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) (Red Hat/Linux) mod_ssl/2.6.6 OpenSSL/0.9.5a mod_perl/1.24   [Check]
157 University of the West of England (UWE) Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.0.5   [Check]
158 Westminster Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
159 Wolverhampton Apache/1.3.14 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 Displays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message [Check]
160 University College Worcester Apache/1.3.6 (Win32) Apache on Windows platform [Check]
161 Writtle College Microsoft-IIS/5.0   [Check]
162 York St John College Microsoft-IIS/5.0 Sets a cookie [Check]
163 York Apache/1.3.26   [Check]

The information in the table was collected on 21st November 2002.


  1. WebWatching UK Universities and Colleges, Brian Kelly, Ariadne Issue 12, Nov 1997
  2. A Survey Of Web Server Software Used In UK University Web Sites, Brian Kelly, Ariadne Issue 25, Sept 2000
  3. Somis Web Wizards, University of Dundee
  4. Netcraft Web Server Survey, Netcraft

Author Details

Picture of Brian KellyBrian Kelly
UK Web Focus
University of Bath

Email: b.kelly@ukoln.ac.uk

Brian Kelly is UK Web Focus. He works for UKOLN, which is based at the University of Bath


Date published: 
Wednesday, 15 January 2003
Copyright statement: 

This article has been published under copyright; please see our access terms and copyright guidance regarding use of content from this article. See also our explanations of how to cite Ariadne articles for examples of bibliographic format.