April Update – Web Server Administration

What is Server Administration?

Server Administration is advanced computer networking that includes server installation and configuration, server roles, storage, Active Directory and Group Policy, file, print, and web services, remote access, virtualization, application servers, troubleshooting, performance, and reliability. We thought it might be helpful to review the basics (particularly for aspiring web professionals).

What is a Web Server?

Web server is a computer where the web content is stored. Basically, a web server is used to host the web sites but there exists other web servers also such as gaming, storage, FTP, email etc.

How does the Web Server Work?

Web server respond to the client request in either of the following two ways:

  • Sending the file to the client associated with the requested URL.
  • Generating response by invoking a script and communicating with database
  • When client sends request for a web page, the web server search for the requested page if requested page is found then it will send it to client with an HTTP response.
  • If the requested web page is not found, web server will the send an HTTP response: Error 404 Not found.
  • If client has requested for some other resources then the web server will contact to the application server and data store to construct the HTTP response.


Web Server Architecture follows the following two approaches:

  1. Concurrent Approach
  2. Single-Process-Event-Driven Approach.

To read more about Web Servers visit this link.

Additional Resources

Apache is one of popular Web Servers. Here are few resources where we can learn about the Apache Server.

  1. Tutorial by Lynda
  2. Apache Server Admin
  3. Apache Tutorials for Beginners
  4. Apache Web Server Complete Guide

The question is ‘Do Web Professionals need to learn about Web Server Admin?’ The answer is ‘No’ but learning Web Server Administration can make an employee more useful to the employer, or more independent if you’re self-employed. Learning things related to your own work is always a useful thing. It certainly supports offering to clients or employers if you have a better understanding of how to get your code into a production environment for public consumption.

This week focuses more on Web Server Administration. We hope you find these resources and overviews useful. We always look forward to your comments and feedback (whether you are a member or not).

If you aspire to be a web professional and don’t know where to start, we offer a number of beginning classes to our members via our School Of Web learning management system. As a member, your first class is free.


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Mozilla Push Server now supports topics

In Firefox 44, Mozilla added Web Push capability to the browser. This gives websites the ability to notify users when something important needs to be communicated. For example, you may have a web app that wants to notify users when they receive a WebRTC call, or when a new discussion is initiated in a group chat. Or with a message service, you may want to notify users when they have new messages available.

Dan Callahan covered the details of adding WebPush to your Web Apps in an article on Hacks early this year. You can also get more documentation on the Push API from MDN or take a look at the ServiceWorker Cookbook for examples of how to use Web Push as well as many other service worker scenarios.

While Web Push has many benefits, it does come with some drawbacks. For example, if you notify an offline user of unread messages, when they come back to the browser later, the user may be inundated with many notifications at once.


This can be mitigated a bit on certain operating systems, but a better way is now available. The Mozilla Push Service now offers the capability to provide topics for notification messages. This means that any user agent subscribed to the application will only be provided with the last message in a topic when it returns from an offline state. The Push Service replaces all previous push messages with the same topic and only displays the most recent one. In the example referenced above, all the unread messages are grouped into one topic, and when an offline user opens the browser they only get one message from the topic, which is the last one received.


As this is a change to the WebPush specification, to get this to work you will need to modify the server code that actually pushes the messages to the Push Service. Essentially, you must add a header named “Topic” to the push message. Take a look at my test example for topics on github for a simple example. You can see how the header is added in the pusher/ file with the following code:

    headers={"topic": topic},

If you are using Marco Castelluccio’s NodeJS web-push library, you can add the header in the following way:

webPush.sendNotification(req.body.endpoint, {
         TTL: req.body.ttl,
         payload: req.body.payload,
         userPublicKey: req.body.key,
         userAuth: req.body.authSecret,
         headers: {
             topic: topic

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