Web Magazine for Information Professionals

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
MS IIS5735.0%
(Novell) Netware21.2%
Not Given10.6%
Table 1B: Version Summary
Apache v1.3.*8652.8%
Apache v2.*42.5%
IIS v3.*21.2%
IIS v4.*2314.1%
IIS v5.*3219.6%
Table 1C: OS Summary


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
 InstitutionWeb Server SoftwareCommentsTry It
1AberdeenApache/1.3.23 (Unix) PHP/4.2.2 mod_ssl/2.8.6 OpenSSL/0.9.4 [Check]
2Abertay DundeeMicrosoft-IIS/4.0Sets cookies[Check]
3AberystwythApache [Check]
4Anglia Polytechnic UniversityApache/1.3.23 (Unix) PHP/4.2.1 [Check]
5AstonApache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.2.3 mod_ssl/2.8.11 OpenSSL/0.9.6g [Check]
6BangorApache/1.3.23 (Unix) mod_jk/1.1.0 PHP/4.1.1 mod_ssl/2.8.6 OpenSSL/0.9.6aSets a cookie[Check]
7Bath SpaMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Gives PICS label[Check]
8BathApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 DAV/1.0.2 [Check]
9Queen's University of BelfastApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.3 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6g [Check]
10Bell CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/3.0Uses HTTP/1.0[Check]
11Birkbeck CollegeApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
12BirminghamApache/1.3.27 (Unix) mod_gzip/ DAV/1.0.3 PHP/4.2.3 [Check]
13Bishop Grosseteste CollegeApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
14Bolton InstituteApache/1.3.12 (Unix) Chili!Soft-ASP/3.6.2 PHP/4.2.2 mod_perl/1.24 ApacheJserv/1.1.2 [Check]
15Arts Institute at BournemouthMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
16BournemouthApache/1.3.9 (Unix) [Check]
17BradfordApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.2 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6e [Check]
18BrightonApache/2.0.42 (Unix)Uses Apache 2.0[Check]
19BristolApache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_auth_pam/1.0a mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6c [Check]
20BrunelApache/2.0.39 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.0.39 OpenSSL/0.9.6eUses Apache 2.0[Check]
21Buckinghamshire ChilternsMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
22CambridgeApache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_perl/1.24_01 [Check]
23Institute of Cancer ResearchApache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/4.0.4pl1 mod_perl/1.24_01 [Check]
24Canterbury Christ ChurchMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
25CardiffApache [Check]
26University of Wales Institute, CardiffMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
27University of Central EnglandApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6Has message saying X-Pad: avoid browser bug[Check]
28University of Central LancashireApache/1.3.6 (Unix) [Check]
29Central School of Speech and DramaMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
30Chester CollegeApache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 mod_layout/3.2 [Check]
31University College ChichesterApache/1.3.20 (Win32)Apache on Windows platform[Check]
32City UniversityApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
33Courtauld Institute of ArtApache/1.3.12 (Unix) DAV/1.0.3 PHP/4.0.0 [Check]
34CoventryApache/1.3.6 (Unix) [Check]
35CranfieldApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.1 mod_perl/1.27 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9Provides P3P file[Check]
36Dartington College?Not specified[Check]
37De MontfortApache/1.3.27Sets cookies[Check]
38DerbyMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
39DundeeApache/2.0.39 (Unix)Uses Apache 2.0[Check]
40DurhamApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 mod_ssl/2.8.9 OpenSSL/0.9.6g [Check]
41East AngliaApache/1.3.12 (Unix) AuthPostgreSQL/0.9.5 mod_perl/1.21_03 [Check]
42University of East LondonApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
43Edge Hill CollegeApache/1.3.20 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 [Check]
44Edinburgh College of ArtApache/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]
45EdinburghApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/3.0.18 mod_perl/1.27 [Check]
46EssexMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
47ExeterApache/1.3.23 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 [Check]
48Falmouth CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
49GlamorganApache [Check]
50Glasgow CaledonianApache/1.3.3 (Unix) FrontPage/ [Check]
51Glasgow School of ArtMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
52GlasgowApache/1.3.12 (Unix) [Check]
53GloucestershireMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
54Goldsmiths CollegeApache/1.3.26 [Check]
55GreenwichApache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_perl/1.24 ApacheJserv/1.1.2 [Check]
56Harper AdamsMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
57Heriot-WattApache/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]
58HertfordshireApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
59HuddersfieldApache/1.3.12 (Unix) PHP/4.0RC2 [Check]
60HullApache/1.3.26 (Unix) Resin/2.1.1 PHP/4.2.2 mod_ssl/2.8.9 OpenSSL/0.9.6d [Check]
61Imperial CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
62Institute of EducationMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
63KeeleApache/1.3.26 [Check]
64Kent Institute of Art and DesignMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
65KentApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 AuthMySQL/2.20 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6g [Check]
66King Alfred's CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
67King's College LondonApache/1.3.12 (Unix) DAV/1.0.3 PHP/4.0.0 [Check]
68KingstonApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
69LampeterMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
70LancasterApache/1.3.26 [Check]
71Leeds Metropolitan UniversityApache/1.3.9 (Unix) PHP/4.0.5 mod_perl/1.21 [Check]
72LeedsApache/1.3.22 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6 [Check]
73LeicesterNetscape-Enterprise/6.0 [Check]
74LincolnMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
75Liverpool HopeNetWare-Enterprise-Web-Server/5.1 [Check]
76Liverpool John Moores UniversityMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
77LiverpoolApache [Check]
78London Business SchoolNetscape-Enterprise/3.6 SP2 [Check]
79London Guildhall UniversityApache/1.3.20 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6Dispays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message[Check]
80London InstituteApache/1.3.12 (Unix) (SuSE/Linux) mod_perl/1.21 PHP/4.2.3 mod_ssl/2.6.2 OpenSSL/0.9.5 [Check]
81University of LondonMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
82London School of EconomicsApache [Check]
83London School of Hygiene & Tropical MedicineApache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/4.1.2 mod_perl/1.24_01 [Check]
84LoughboroughApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
85LutonApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2Dispays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message[Check]
86UMISTApache/1.3.23 (Unix) [Check]
87Manchester Metropolitan UniversityApache/1.3.20 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6 [Check]
88ManchesterApache/1.3.9 (Unix) Debian/GNU PHP/4.0.3pl1 AuthMySQL/2.20 [Check]
89University of Wales College of MedicineMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
90MiddlesexMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
91NapierMicrosoft-IIS/4.0Sets cookies[Check]
92NewcastleApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 [Check]
93Newman CollegeApache/1.3.14 (Win32)Apache on Windows platform[Check]
94NewportMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
95North-East Wales Institute of Higher EducationNovell-HTTP-Server/3.1R1 [Check]
96University of North LondonApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
97University College NorthamptonApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.1.0 [Check]
98Northern School of Contemporary DanceMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
99University of NorthumbriaMediasurface/4.0Uses HTTP/1.0[Check]
100Norwich School of Art and DesignMicrosoft-IIS/3.0Uses HTTP/1.0[Check]
101Nottingham Trent UniversityMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Uses HTTP/1.0[Check]
102NottinghamApache [Check]
103Oxford BrookesNCSA/1.5.2Uses HTTP/1.0[Check]
104OxfordApache/1.3.26 (Unix) Debian GNU/Linux [Check]
105PaisleyMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
106PlymouthMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
107PortsmouthMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
108Queen Margaret University College,Microsoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
109Queen Mary and Westfield CollegeApache/1.3.27 (Unix) [Check]
110Ravensbourne CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
111ReadingApache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2 mod_perl/1.26 mod_ssl/2.8.11 OpenSSL/0.9.6g [Check]
112University of Wales, RegistryMicrosoft-IIS/4.0Sets a cookie[Check]
113Robert Gordon UniversityMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets cookies[Check]
114University of Surrey, RoehamptonMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
115Rose Bruford CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
116Royal Academy of MusicApache/1.3.19 (Unix) [Check]
117Royal Agricultural CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
118Royal College of ArtMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
119Royal College of MusicMicrosoft-IIS/4.0Sets a cookie[Check]
120Royal HollowayMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
121Royal Northern College of MusicMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
122Royal Scottish Academy of Music and DramaApache/1.3.20a (NETWARE)Apache on Netware[Check]
123Royal Veterinary CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Server failed to terminate HTTP headers correctly[Check]
124St AndrewsApache/1.3.27 (Unix) [Check]
125St George's Hospital Medical SchoolApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.0 [Check]
126College of St Mark and St JohnMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
127St Martin's CollegeApache/1.3.26 (Unix) AuthMySQL/2.20 PHP/4.2.2 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6a [Check]
128St Mary's CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
129SalfordApache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.2.3 [Check]
130School of Oriental and African StudiesApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.2Displays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message[Check]
131School of PharmacyWebSite/3.1.11Uses HTTP/1.0[Check]
132Scottish Agricultural CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/4.0Sets a cookie[Check]
133Sheffield HallamApache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_auth_pam/1.0a mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6c [Check]
134SheffieldApache/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]
135South Bank UniversityApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
136Southampton InstituteMicrosoft-IIS/4.0Sets a cookie[Check]
137SouthamptonApache/1.3.23 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/4.2.2 [Check]
138StaffordshireApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.0.6 ApacheJServ/1.0 mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6g [Check]
139StirlingApache/1.3.26 (Win32)Apache on Windows platform[Check]
140StrathclydeApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
141SunderlandApache/1.3.26 (Unix) [Check]
142Surrey Institute of Art and DesignMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
143SurreyApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.1Displays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message[Check]
144SussexApache/2.0.43 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.0.43 OpenSSL/0.9.6g PHP/4.2.4-devUses Apache 2.0[Check]
145Swansea InstituteMicrosoft-IIS/4.0 [Check]
146University of Wales, SwanseaApache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.2.2 FrontPage/ [Check]
147TeessideMicrosoft-IIS/4.0Sets cookies[Check]
148Thames Valley UniversityNetscape-Enterprise/3.6 SP2 [Check]
149Open UniversityNetscape-Enterprise/4.1 [Check]
150Trinity College of MusicMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
151Trinity College, CarmarthenMicrosoft-IIS/4.0Sets a cookie[Check]
152Trinity and All Saints CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
153UlsterApache/1.3.26 [Check]
154University College LondonApache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.8.10 OpenSSL/0.9.6b [Check]
155WarwickApache/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]
156Royal Welsh College of Music and DramaApache/1.3.12 (Unix) (Red Hat/Linux) mod_ssl/2.6.6 OpenSSL/0.9.5a mod_perl/1.24 [Check]
157University of the West of England (UWE)Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.0.5 [Check]
158WestminsterMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
159WolverhamptonApache/1.3.14 (Unix) PHP/4.1.2Displays X-Pad: avoid browser bug message[Check]
160University College WorcesterApache/1.3.6 (Win32)Apache on Windows platform[Check]
161Writtle CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0 [Check]
162York St John CollegeMicrosoft-IIS/5.0Sets a cookie[Check]
163YorkApache/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 Kelly Brian 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