Apache Vs Nginx Vs Lighttpd: Comparing Performance, Resource Usage And Features

Checking the ins and outs of Apache, Nginx and Lighttpd, the following will assist you in discovering which web server can provide you with the sort of functionality you want.

Updated Nov 24, 2017Comparisons
Featured Apache vs Nginx vs Lighttpd

Recently I’ve encountered a special case scenario where Nginx strict configuration rules seemed to be unable to accommodate the specific directions I wanted them to carry. From that point, one thing led to another and all of a sudden I found myself researching open source web (http) servers in order to find the one that could provide me with high performance while being flexible at the same time.

Below you’ll find the fruits of my labor, after making lots of vigorous testings and tweaking in order to find the ultimate server which I set out to find.

Oh, and for the curious among you, here’s the Nginx “riddle” I was facing. See if you can solve the following configuration task before you finish reading the article. I’ll reveal the answer at the end of the article:

[Nginx Configuration Riddle]

Nginx rules structure ordered by priority:

  1. = (exactly) : location = /path
  2. ^~ (forward match) : location ^~ /path
  3. ~ (regular expression case sensitive) : location ~ /path/
  4. ~* (regular expression case insensitive) : location ~* .(jpg|png|bmp)
  5. / : location /path

Your mission is to be able to direct all http requests to https as long as they do not contain the phrase “no_redirection” in them. Requests that do contain “no_redirection” are to return a 410 error page.

So urls such as:

http://iwf1.com
http://iwf1.com/no_apache-vs-nginx-vs-lighttpd_redirection
http://iwf1.com/apache-vs-nginx-vs-lighttpd?redirection_no

are valid for redirection, whereas urls such as:

http://iwf1.com/no_redirection
http://iwf1.com/no_redirection/http_servers_comparison
http://iwf1.com/no_redirection?apache-vs-nginx-vs-lighttpd

are invalid, and should return error 410.

My starting point was these rules:

if ($scheme = http) {
return 301 https://$server_name$request_uri;
}

and

location ~ /no_redirection {
return 410;
}

Needles to say the rules above couldn’t deliver the required behavior.

And now, on to the comparison.

The Servers

Apache

Apache made its first appearance on 1995, continuing another http server project (the public domain HTTP daemon) which development started to stall after the main developer had left the project. A group of aspiring webmasters then got together in order to coordinate their patches and bugfixes to the server and thus Apache was forged (a Patchy server).

With over twenty years of experience, Apache gained popularity[1] and accumulated lots of features along the way, possibly to the point where it may have become bloated, some would say.

Claim to fame: feature-packed, most popular web server.

Myths to shatter: resource-hog, slow.

Lighttpd

Lighttpd (pronounced “lighty”) was first introduced to the world on 2003. Originally it was a proof of concept that the C10k problem can be solved, i.e. that one server can be made to handle 10,000 connections in parallel. Thanks to that proof, the high performance server later became quite popular that at some point it was even adopted by large scale sites such as YouTube, Reddit, ThePirateBay and so on (all three seem to have moved on to other servers by now though).

Upon gaining popularity, the large userbase had inevitably started filling the role of testing Lighttpd – a role which the small developers team apparently couldn’t cover fully. Some bug reports were filled regarding allegedly found memory leaks, most prominently concerning the F/CGI implementation which gave rise to rumors about Lighttpd being unstable.

Claim to fame: fast, solves the C10k problem.

Myths to shatter: buggy, contains memory leaks.

Nginx

Nginx (pronounced Engine X) was first publicly released on 2004. Just like Lighttpd, Nginx was also set out to solve the C10k problem, but being published a year after Lighttpd, it wasn’t credited for it. Its main premise however, became a lot more dominant as time went by: using asynchronous event-driven approach to handle requests.

The same approach have made it one of the most high performance servers out there today, being the second most popular in the world, according to recent statistics[1]. Yet Nginx strive for high performance comes with a price, the server has a set of rules which priority is¬†unconfigurable, it also doesn’t allow for overriding systemwide access settings on a per-file basis (more on that below).

Claim to fame: asynchronous, event-driven.

Myths to shatter: limiting, strict.

Features

It is widely known that when it comes to features, Apache is one of the leading web servers out there to supply you with the feature you want. But how does it compare to Nginx and Lighttpd?

Before you, are lists of modular features each server can be compiled with. These features can be used either as plug-able modules which you can then set the server configuration to use, or, these features can also be compiled statically, meaning not as modules but rather built-into the server instead.

Note: the lists are scroll-able.

[ + + means installed, – – means not installed. ]

Apache-2.4.27-r1:

Installed Feature Description
– – apache2_modules_access_compat Group authorizations based on host (name or IP address). Available as a compatibility module with previous versions.
+ + apache2_modules_actions Provides for executing CGI scripts based on media type or request method
+ + apache2_modules_alias Provides for mapping different parts of the host filesystem in the document tree and for URL redirection
– – apache2_modules_asis Sends files that contain their own HTTP headers
+ + apache2_modules_auth_basic Basic authentication
– – apache2_modules_auth_digest User authentication using MD5 Digest Authentication
+ + apache2_modules_authn_alias Provides the ability to create extended authentication providers based on actual providers
– – apache2_modules_authn_anon Allows “anonymous” user access to authenticated areas
+ + apache2_modules_authn_core Provides core authentication capabilities common to all authentication providers (functionality provided by authn_alias in previous versions).
– – apache2_modules_authn_dbd User authentication using an SQL database
– – apache2_modules_authn_dbm User authentication using DBM files
– – apache2_modules_authn_file User authentication using text files
+ + apache2_modules_authz_core Provides core authorization capabilities to various authorization/authorization modules, such as authn_file and authz_user.
– – apache2_modules_authz_dbd Provides authorization capabilities via SQL database so that authenticated users can be allowed or denied access to portions of the web site by group membership.
– – apache2_modules_authz_dbm Group authorization using DBM files
– – apache2_modules_authz_groupfile Group authorization using plaintext files
+ + apache2_modules_authz_host Group authorizations based on host (name or IP address)
– – apache2_modules_authz_owner Authorization based on file ownership
– – apache2_modules_authz_user User Authorization
+ + apache2_modules_autoindex Generates directory indexes, automatically, similar to the Unix ls command
+ + apache2_modules_cache Content cache keyed to URIs
– – modules_cache_disk Disk based storage module for the HTTP caching filter (similar to mem_cache in previous versions).
– – apache2_modules_cache_socache Shared object cache (socache) based storage module for the HTTP caching filter.
– – apache2_modules_cern_meta CERN httpd metafile semantics
– – apache2_modules_cgi Enable CGI module (used by non-multithreaded MPMs, for eg. prefork)
– – apache2_modules_cgid Enable CGI module (used by multithreaded MPMs, for eg. worker)
– – modules_charset_lite Specify character set translation or recoding
– – apache2_modules_dav Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) functionality
– – apache2_modules_dav_fs filesystem provider for mod_dav
– – apache2_modules_dav_lock generic locking module for mod_dav
– – apache2_modules_dbd Manages SQL database connections
+ + apache2_modules_deflate Compress content before it is delivered to the client
+ + apache2_modules_dir Provides for “trailing slash” redirects and serving directory index files
– – apache2_modules_dumpio Dumps all I/O to error log as desired
– – apache2_modules_env Modifies the environment which is passed to CGI scripts and SSI pages
+ + apache2_modules_expires Generation of Expires and Cache-Control HTTP headers according to user-specified criteria
– – apache2_modules_ext_filter Pass the response body through an external program before delivery to the client
– – apache2_modules_file_cache Caches a static list of files in memory
+ + apache2_modules_filter Context-sensitive smart filter configuration module
+ + apache2_modules_headers Customization of HTTP request and response headers
+ + apache2_modules_http2 Enable http2/alpn module
– – apache2_modules_ident RFC 1413 ident lookups
– – apache2_modules_imagemap Server-side imagemap processing
+ + apache2_modules_include Server-parsed html documents (Server Side Includes)
– – apache2_modules_info Provides a comprehensive overview of the server configuration
– – apache2_modules_lbmethod_bybusyness Pending request counting load balancer scheduler algorithm for proxy_balancer.
– – apache2_modules_lbmethod_byrequests Request counting load balancer scheduler algorithm for proxy_balancer.
– – apache2_modules_lbmethod_bytraffic Weighted traffic counting load balancer scheduler algorithm for proxy_balancer.
– – apache2_modules_lbmethod_heartbeat Heartbeat traffic counting load balancer scheduler algorithm for proxy_balancer.
+ + apache2_modules_log_config Logging of the requests made to the server
– – modules_log_forensic Forensic Logging of the requests made to the server
– – apache2_modules_logio Logging of input and output bytes per request
– – apache2_modules_macro Macros for the Apache config file.
+ + apache2_modules_mime Associates the requested filename’s extensions with the file’s behavior (handlers and filters) and content (mime-type, language, character set and encoding)
+ + apache2_modules_mime_magic Determines the MIME type of a file by looking at a few bytes of its contents
– – apache2_modules_negotiation Provides for content negotiation
+ + apache2_modules_proxy HTTP/1.1 proxy/gateway server
– – apache2_modules_proxy_ajp AJP support module for mod_proxy
– – apache2_modules_proxy_balancer mod_proxy extension for load balancing
– – apache2_modules_proxy_connect mod_proxy extension for CONNECT request handling
+ + apache2_modules_proxy_fcgi FCGI support module for mod_proxy.
– – apache2_modules_proxy_ftp FTP support module for mod_proxy
– – apache2_modules_proxy_html Module to rewrite links in html pages behind a reverse proxy
– – apache2_modules_proxy_http HTTP support module for mod_proxy
– – apache2_modules_proxy_scgi SCGI gateway module for mod_proxy
– – apache2_modules_proxy_wstunnel Provides support for the tunnelling of web socket connections to a backend websockets server.
– – apache2_modules_ratelimit Ratelimit module for transfer rate management
– – apache2_modules_remoteip Remotip module for logging
– – apache2_modules_reqtimeout Set timeout and minimum data rate for receiving requests
+ + apache2_modules_rewrite Provides a rule-based rewriting engine to rewrite requested URLs on the fly
– – apache2_modules_setenvif Allows the setting of environment variables based on characteristics of the request
– – apache2_modules_slotmem_shm Slot-based shared memory provider.
+ + apache2_modules_socache_shmcb A shared object cache provider using a high-performance cyclic buffer inside a shared memory segment.
– – apache2_modules_speling Attempts to correct mistaken URLs that users might have entered by ignoring capitalization and by allowing up to one misspelling
– – apache2_modules_status Provides information on server activity and performance
– – apache2_modules_substitute Perform search and replace operations on response bodies
+ + apache2_modules_unique_id Provides an environment variable with a unique identifier for each request
+ + apache2_modules_unixd Basic (required) security for Unix-family platforms.
– – apache2_modules_userdir User-specific directories
– – apache2_modules_usertrack Clickstream logging of user activity on a site
– – apache2_modules_version Version dependent configuration
– – apache2_modules_vhost_alias Provides for dynamically configured mass virtual hosting
– – apache2_modules_xml2enc Enable xml2 encoding module
+ + apache2_mpms_event An experimental variant of the standard worker MPM
– – apache2_mpms_prefork Implements a non-threaded, pre-forking web server
– – apache2_mpms_worker Multi-Processing Module implementing a hybrid multi-threaded multi-process web server
– – debug Enable extra debug codepaths, like asserts and extra output. If you want to get meaningful backtraces see
https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Project:Quality_Assurance/Backtraces
– – doc Add extra documentation (API, Javadoc, etc). It is recommended to enable per package instead of globally
– – ldap Add LDAP support (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)
– – libressl Use dev-libs/libressl as SSL provider (might need ssl USE flag), packages should not depend on this USE flag
+ + ssl Add support for Secure Socket Layer connections
– – static Link in apache2 modules statically rather then plugins
– – suexec Install suexec with apache
+ + threads Add threads support for various packages. Usually pthreads

Total of 94 modular features

Nginx-1.12.1:

Installed Feature Description
– – aio Enables file AIO support
– – debug Enable extra debug codepaths, like asserts and extra output. If you want to get meaningful backtraces see https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Project:Quality_Assurance/Backtraces
+ + http Enable HTTP core support
+ + http-cache Enable HTTP cache support
+ + http2 Enable HTTP2 module support
+ + ipv6 Add support for IP version 6
– – libatomic Use libatomic instead of builtin atomic operations
– – libressl Use dev-libs/libressl as SSL provider (might need ssl USE flag), packages should not depend on this USE flag
– – luajit Use dev-lang/luajit instead of dev-lang/lua for lua support when building the lua http module.
+ + nginx_modules_http_access This module provides a simple host-based access control.
+ + nginx_modules_http_addition This module adds contents of other locations before and after the current location’s content.
– – nginx_modules_http_auth_basic This module protects your site or parts of it with username and password based on HTTP Basic Authentication.
– – nginx_modules_http_auth_ldap LDAP module for nginx which supports authentication against multiple LDAP servers.
+ + nginx_modules_http_auth_pam This module provides authentication via PAM.
– – nginx_modules_http_auth_request Module implementing client authorization based on the result of a subrequest.
+ + nginx_modules_http_autoindex This module provides automatic directory listings.
+ + nginx_modules_http_browser This module creates variables, the values of which depend on the request header “User-agent”.
– – nginx_modules_http_cache_purge External module adding ability to purge content from nginx’s FastCGI and proxy caches.
+ + nginx_modules_http_charset This module can reencode data of one encoding into another.
– – nginx_modules_http_dav This module adds the HTTP and WebDAV methods PUT, DELETE, MKCOL, COPY and MOVE.
– – nginx_modules_http_dav_ext Add missing WebDAV methods PROPFIND & OPTIONS to the existing WebDAV module.
– – nginx_modules_http_degradation Allows to return 204 or 444 code for some locations on low memory condition (reliable on FreeBSD only)
+ + nginx_modules_http_echo Brings shell-style goodies to Nginx config file.
– – nginx_modules_http_empty_gif This module keeps a 1×1 transparent GIF in memory that can be served very quickly.
– – nginx_modules_http_fancyindex This module makes possible the generation of file listings, like the built-in autoindex module does, but adding a touch of style.
+ + nginx_modules_http_fastcgi This module allows Nginx to interact with FastCGI processes and control what parameters are passed to the process.
– – nginx_modules_http_flv This module provides the ability to seek within FLV (Flash) files using time-based offsets.
+ + nginx_modules_http_geo This module creates variables, whose values depend on the IP-address of the client.
– – nginx_modules_http_geoip This module creates variables based on the IP-address of the client matched against the MaxMind GeoIP binary files.
+ + nginx_modules_http_gunzip Permits to decompress gzip’ed files on-the-fly for clients not supporting the gzip encoding method.
+ + nginx_modules_http_gzip This module allows for on-the-fly gzip compression.
+ + nginx_modules_http_gzip_static Before serving a file from disk to a gzip-enabled client, this module will look for a precompressed file in the same location.
+ + nginx_modules_http_headers_more Set and clear input and output headers
+ + nginx_modules_http_image_filter This module is a filter for transforming JPEG, GIF and PNG images.
+ + nginx_modules_http_limit_conn This module makes it possible to limit the number of simultaneous connections for the assigned session
+ + nginx_modules_http_limit_req This module allows you to limit the number of requests for a given session.
– – nginx_modules_http_lua Embed the power of Lua into nginx
+ + nginx_modules_http_map This module allows you to classify, or map a set of values into a different set of values and store the result in a variable.
– – nginx_modules_http_memc An extended version of the standard memcached module that supports set, add, delete, and many more memcached commands.
+ + nginx_modules_http_memcached You can use this module to perform simple caching.
– – nginx_modules_http_metrics Module to export various metrics in easy-parseable JSON.
– – nginx_modules_http_mogilefs Enable support for MogileFS.
– – nginx_modules_http_mp4 This module adds pseudo-streaming
– – nginx_modules_http_naxsi An open source, high performance, low rules maintenance, Web Application Firewall module for Nginx.
– – nginx_modules_http_perl This module makes it possible to execute Perl directly within Nginx and call Perl via SSI.
+ + nginx_modules_http_proxy This module makes it possible to transfer requests to another server.
– – nginx_modules_http_push_stream Push Stream module, supporting EventSource, WebSocket, Long Polling, and Forever Iframe.
+ + nginx_modules_http_random_index Pick a random directory index from a directory.
– – nginx_modules_http_realip This module allows to change the client’s IP address to value from request header (e. g. X-Real-IP or X-Forwarded-For).
+ + nginx_modules_http_referer This module makes it possible to block access to the site with the incorrect values of line “Referer” in the request header.
+ + nginx_modules_http_rewrite This module makes it possible to change URI using regular expressions (PCRE), and to redirect and select configuration depending on variables.
+ + nginx_modules_http_scgi An implementation of the Simple Common Gateway Interface.
– – nginx_modules_http_secure_link This module computes and checks request URLs for a required security token.
– – nginx_modules_http_security Web application firewall and Intrusion Detection System.
+ + nginx_modules_http_slice A filter that splits a request into subrequests, each returning a certain range of response
+ + nginx_modules_http_slowfs_cache This module adds the ability to cache static files
– – nginx_modules_http_spdy This module provides an SPDY implementation. (Deprecated, use IUSE=”http2″ instead)
– – nginx_modules_http_split_clients This module provides A/B testing support.
+ + nginx_modules_http_ssi This module provides a filter which processes Server-Side Includes (SSI) in the input.
– – nginx_modules_http_sticky Module to always forward clients to the same upstream server (via sticky cookies)
+ + nginx_modules_http_stub_status This module provides the ability to get some status from nginx.
– – nginx_modules_http_sub This module can search and replace text in the nginx response.
+ + nginx_modules_http_upload_progress This module adds the ability to track POST upload progress via JSON API
– – nginx_modules_http_upstream_check Add health check support for upstream servers.
– – nginx_modules_http_upstream_hash This module provides the ability to distribute upstream requests based on hashed key value.
– – nginx_modules_http_upstream_ip_hash This module provides the ability to distribute upstream requests based on the IP-address of the client.
– – nginx_modules_http_upstream_keepalive Thiis module provides the ability to cache connections to upstream servers.
– – nginx_modules_http_upstream_least_conn This module provides the ability to distribute upstream requests using load balancing methods.
– – nginx_modules_http_upstream_zone This module makes it possible to define a shared memory zone that keeps the group’s configuration and run-time state that are shared between worker processes.
+ + nginx_modules_http_userid This module gives out cookies for identification of clients.
– – nginx_modules_http_uwsgi External module for the uWSGI protocol for python web apps.
– – nginx_modules_http_xslt This module is a filter which converts an XML response with the aid of one or more XSLT templates.
– – nginx_modules_mail_imap This module provides IMAP proxy capability.
– – nginx_modules_mail_pop3 This module provides POP3 proxy capability.
– – nginx_modules_mail_smtp This module provides SMTP proxy capability.
– – nginx_modules_stream_access This module allows limiting access to certain client addresses.
– – nginx_modules_stream_geo This module creates variables, whose values depend on the IP-address of the client.
– – nginx_modules_stream_geoip This module creates variables based on the IP-address of the client matched against the MaxMind GeoIP binary files.
– – nginx_modules_stream_limit_conn This module is used to limit the number of connections per the defined key.
– – nginx_modules_stream_map This module allows you to classify, or map a set of values into a different set of values and store the result in a variable.
– – nginx_modules_stream_realip This module allows to change the client’s IP address to value from request header (e. g. X-Real-IP or X-Forwarded-For).
– – nginx_modules_stream_return This module allows sending a specified value to the client and then closing the connection.
– – nginx_modules_stream_split_clients This module provides A/B testing support.
– – nginx_modules_stream_ssl_preread This module allows extracting information from the ClientHello message without terminating SSL/TLS.
– – nginx_modules_stream_upstream_hash This module provides the ability to distribute upstream requests based on hashed key value.
– – nginx_modules_stream_upstream_least_conn This module provides the ability to distribute upstream requests using load balancing methods.
– – nginx_modules_stream_upstream_zone This module makes it possible to define a shared memory zone that keeps the group’s configuration and run-time state that are shared between worker processes.
+ + pcre Add support for Perl Compatible Regular Expressions
– – pcre-jit Enable JIT for pcre
+ + rtmp NGINX-based Media Streaming Server
+ + ssl Enable HTTPS module for http. Enable SSL/TLS support for POP3/IMAP/SMTP for mail.
+ + threads Add threads support for various packages. Usually pthreads
– – vim-syntax Pulls in related vim syntax scripts

Total of 93 modular features

Lighttpd-1.4.45:

Installed Feature Description
+ + bzip2 Use the bzlib compression library
– – doc Add extra documentation (API, Javadoc, etc). It is recommended to enable per package instead of globally
+ + fam Enable FAM (File Alteration Monitor) support
+ + gdbm Add support for sys-libs/gdbm (GNU database libraries)
+ + ipv6 Add support for IP version 6
– – kerberos Add kerberos support
– – ldap Add LDAP support (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)
+ + libev Enable fdevent handler
– – libressl Use dev-libs/libressl as SSL provider (might need ssl USE flag), packages should not depend on this USE flag
– – lua Enable Lua scripting support
– – memcached Add support for memcached
– – minimal Install a very minimal build (disables, for example, plugins, fonts, most drivers, non-critical features)
– – mmap Use mmap with files owned by lighttpd. This is a dangerous option as it may allow local users to trigger SIGBUS crashes.
+ + mysql Add mySQL Database support
+ + pcre Add support for Perl Compatible Regular Expressions
– – php Include support for the PHP language
– – rrdtool Enable rrdtool support via mod_rrdtool
+ + ssl Add support for Secure Socket Layer connections
– – test Workaround to pull in packages needed to run with FEATURES=test. Portage-2.1.2 handles this internally, so don’t set it in make.conf/package.use anymore
– – webdav Enable webdav properties
+ + xattr Add support for extended attributes (filesystem-stored metadata)
+ + zlib Add support for zlib (de)compression

Total of 22 modular features

Quite surprisingly, when looking at the total sum of each list, it seem as though Nginx has managed to almost catch up with Apache’s feature set. Lighttpd on the other hand is still lagging behind, and perhaps it’s for the better because the name Lighttpd do suggests lightweight-ness.

Also, here are some things that aren’t being reflected by the lists above –

  • First of all, let’s start by mentioning that most users won’t even need all these features in the first place. For instance, Apache’s “xml2enc” module or Nginx’ “uwsgi” http module would probably not be part of any standard installation. It’s good to have them there as options, but it probably won’t make any difference for many users if they weren’t.
  • Another point I want to emphasize is that some of these features’ names do not reveal their actual nature, and what I mean by that is, for example, Apache’s http2 implementation also allows you to use the “h2c” directive which can upgrade http/1.1 connections to http/2 (note that web-browsers only supports http2 over ssl, i.e. https), whereas Nginx’ http2 implementation allows for setting http/2 connection only (meaning no connection upgrade, either the connection is v. 1.1 or 2.0).
  • Thirdly, neither Nginx nor Lighttpd have any equivalent to Apache’s decentralized approach, where one could use “.htaccess” files to override systemwide directives. Apparently, the centralized approach is more geared towards performance as some of the tuning advice for Apache you’ll find in many online resources like to suggest – turning off htaccess support by using the directive: AllowOverride None in httpd.conf. That said, without htaccess (or equivalent) shared hosting would probably be a real flop.

Now personally, the features I cared about, besides the basics of course – rewrite, redirect, include, etc…, were: support for ssl, http/2 connections, php-fpm, and of course flexibility and speed (but we’ll get to that later on).

I found that both Apache and Nginx could accommodate my requirements but as for Lighttpd, I would have to compromise on http/2.

Configuration Syntax

Before ending up the Features section and moving on to the next topic, I’d like to draw your attention to each server’s configuration syntax as a feature in its own. While most readers may be familiar to some extent with Apache’s configuration syntax or Nginx’s, many are probably unfamiliar with Lighttpd’s one, and more importantly – how does the syntax actually serves as a feature of the server.

So starting with the most widely known one – Apache. Apache’s configuration syntax is quite broad and well structured it uses predetermined directives to enable the user an easy way to configure the server (instead of, for example, requiring the user to write code). It also allows the user to include wildcards within the scope of each directive, or use a dedicated regex directives instead. Apache does not prioritizes clear-text syntax over regex one. The priority of directives is then determined by order of placement or by closer match (regardless if the match is reached by regex or plain text), for example:

<Files "index.html">
Require all granted
</Files>

<Directory "/mydir">
Require all denied
</Directory>

The above configuration will deny anyone from accessing files inside “mydir” directory unless the file requested is “index.html”, and that’s depite the fact that “Require all denied” is set after “Require all granted”.

Similarly to Apache, Nginx also comes with directives and dedicated directives for regex built-in as part of its syntax, however, whereas Apache does not prioritizes clear-text over regex Nginx on the other hand does, since an exact match cannot equal a regex expression (see Nginx Configuration Riddle above for the rules priority order).

Lastly we have Lighttpd which have a rather small range of directives (compared to Apache for instance) and within those directives the user is mostly required to use either a predefined value, for example:

server.event-handler = "linux-sysepoll"

or, in some places where it fits, the user is encouraged to use regex, for instance:

url.redirect = (
"^/wishlist/(.+)" => "http://localhost/$1"
)

The prioritization is then made by order of placement.

Considering all three approaches, it seems Lighttpd is both the most minimal as well as the most open one as it doesn’t have regex directives separated from clear-text nor does it prioritizes any directive in particular. Priority is basically trusted in the user’s hands which can be controlled merely by order of placement. In that regard Apache could be considered as having the second most open approach as it does require dedicated regex directives and lastly, Nginx’s approach is a little more strict than the others, having the priorities predefined by the server.

Category Rankings

1 Apache

2 Nginx, Lighttpd

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