Open-source project aims to out-park Microsoft

Open source advocate Bruce Perens has launched a free domain parking service.

Hoping to counter the public perception that the open-source Apache Web server is losing ground to Microsofts Internet Information Services (ISS), Linux advocate Bruce Perens has launched a free domain-parking service.

Launched last week, the OpenSourceParking.com offered users a free place to "park" their unused Web domains. By parking Web sites that have been registered, but not yet put into use, Perens hopes to boost Apache's market share numbers.

Instead of returning an error message, Web sites that have been parked return a page indicating that the site has been registered, but is not yet operational. Often these parked pages include advertisements, generating revenue for the service provider that has parked them.

Last month domain registrar GoDaddy.com migrated 4.5 million such domains from servers running Apache to those based on IIS, a move that contributed to Apache's 5.9 percent drop in market share, according to the most recent Web server usage numbers reported by Netcraft.

This drop in market share may give some IT managers the false impression that IIS is making gains on Apache, said Perens, vice president of professional services with open-source vendor Sourcelabs.

"Microsoft is going to take this figure and say, 'Five percent of all Web servers switched from Apache to Microsoft IIS, why isn't your server doing so?'" Perens said. "So rather than sit every manager in the world down and explain the real back-story... I would just say 'Let's take some wind out of Microsoft's sales.' "

To date, however, it's been Apache -- and not IIS-- that's received the biggest market-share boost from parked domains, according to Rich Miller, a Netcraft analyst, who said in a recent blog posting that more domain-parking services use Apache software than IIS.

Go Daddy is the second major registrar to shift its services to Microsoft's products, following eNom. Other major registrars, including Network Solutions, Dotster, and Register.com do not use Microsoft's software, Miller said.

When Netcraft's most recent server numbers were adjusted to include only active domains, Apache still saw its market share drop, although by a smaller percentage. Netcraft's "active" number for April show that Apache had a market share of 64.9 percent, down 2.3 percent from the pervious month. Microsoft's IIS was running on 26 percent of Web servers, up nearly 1 percent during the same period.

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