As almost any system administrator can tell you, there is no shortage of free Web servers on the market. In fact, Apache, the most widely used Web server, is a freeware Unix-based software package that owns nearly 60 percent of the Web server market according to Netcraft’s September 2001 survey.
In the non-Unix world finding a freeware Web server takes a bit more searching. It is fairly common knowledge that most Windows-based servers are either integrated into the OS or costly. Sambar is an exception to this, and it breaks the rule further by being functional, reliable, and free
In the non-Unix world, however, finding a freeware Web server takes a bit more searching. It is fairly common knowledge that most Windows-based servers are either integrated into the operating system (which can lead to undue complications) or costly.
Sambar is an exception to this, and it breaks the rule further by being functional, reliable, and free.
Sambar is functional. Not only does the server work, but it also works very well in a wide variety of applications. If the system administrator finds the server does not work to his specs, he can program APIs via C and C++.
To get Sambar into a functional state, the sys admin must configure it. Sambar provides a Web-based configuration with a step-by-step walk-through online at http://www.sambar.com/syshelp/config.htm. Sambar supports ASP Web pages via the Sambar Server CScript language in order for sys admins to create a dynamic, database-driven Web page — a must for any large Web site, especially one used for e-commerce. To more thoroughly support e-commerce, Sambar uses the HTTPS protocol in both 40- and 128-bit versions, and OpenSSL libraries are implemented. Many other similar features that make Sambar more functional are packed into the Sambar 5.0 release. Details are available at http://www.sambar.com/syshelp/features.htm.
Sambar is reliable. When matched with a Windows-NT-based system, Sambar’s reliability can come very close to that of a Unix/Apache-based system, so long as the supporting, custom APIs are programmed properly. In most cases, the problems lie within the custom APIs rather than the Sambar code itself.
Sambar can run as a Windows NT System Service (thanks to the properly named ntserver.exe binary in the “bin” directory). This provides features similar to Unix daemons, i.e., the use of a system program without the need to log on to a machine and keep it connected. Sambar takes this product very seriously, as evidenced by the fact that we were able to find many such vague, and some not so vague, references to that fact in the product manual.
Sambar also provides a Watcher Daemon that will try to restart the Web server and e-mail the sys admin in the event the server goes down. This feature sounded very interesting, and we tried to crash Sambar Server to test it out. To our dismay, we couldn’t crash it, so we can’t comment on the feature’s effectiveness.
Sambar does note that Dr.Watson causes some issues with the Daemon that will prevent it from automatically restarting the server. An easy work-around for this is covered on Sambar’s Web site.
Sambar is free. The basic Sambar Production Server is available as freeware. A professional version of Sambar is also available for $99. The professional version offers many more features, including DNS, mail, telnet, and proxy capabilities.
If you are looking for a free Win32 Web server, and don’t care for the built-in IIS platform in Windows NT (possibly due to an outrageous number of recent exploits and subsequent advisories) then Sambar is certainly a product to look into.
Pros: Free Win32 server, Reliable
Cons: Must build custom APIs for some functions already in other products, Does not interface with NT security
Version Reviewed: 5.0
Date of Review: 10/18/01
Reviewed by: M.A. Dockter
Last Updated: 4/4/02