Rendezvous-Enabling Apache Module Beckons to Safari

by Michael Hall

Apple's new browser can talk to Rendezvous-enabled Web servers, and mod_rendezvous provides the means for Apache servers to announce themselves over Rendezvous networks.

Among the technologies marking the release of Apple's OS X version 10.2 (Jaguar) was Rendezvous, which is intended to simplify the creation of ad hoc networks with no configuration from users. With the release of the Rendezvous-enabled browser Safari, a developer has stepped up with an Apache module designed to Rendezvous-enable Apache servers running on Mac OS X machines.

Rendezvous is built on the work of the IETF Zeroconf Working Group, which describes its mission as "making it possible to take two laptop computers, and connect them with a crossover Ethernet cable, and have them communicate usefully using IP, without needing a man in a white lab coat to set it all up for you."

According to the group, that work will consist, in part, of allowing computers to:

  • Allocate addresses without a DHCP server
  • Translate between names and IP addresses without a DNS server
  • Find services, like printers, without a directory server
  • Allocate IP Multicast addresses without a MADCAP server

Apple is currently working with the Zeroconf Working Group to have Rendezvous recognized as an IETF open standard.

Two of the pieces of software Apple has produced since Jaguar's release include Rendezvous support: iChat, its instant messaging client; and Safari, a Web browser based on components from the KDE project.

A beta release of Safari was announced this week at Mac World, prompting more than 300,000 downloads from curious users. Among the options provided in Safari is the detection of Rendezvous-enabled Web servers on a LAN, and the browser provides a dropdown menu to access those servers.

In the past, the only problem with this feature was that there was no obvious way for an Apache server to announce itself on a Rendezvous-enabled network. With mod_redezvous, however, developer Eric Seidel has provided a way for Apache servers running on OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) to identify themselves to Safari browsers and allow those browsers to access them.

Seidel said his module is currently available only for Apache 1.3 on OS X, not the optional Apache 2 installation. Additionally, he notes that it is not configurable and offers no options for selecting which servers running under a given Apache instance are Rendezvous-enabled.

mod_rendezvous is currently available as an installable package from the Seidel's project page. Seidel plans to release an Apache 2 version, and hopes the module will be accepted as part of the Apache project's httpd distribution, or as part of Apple's Apache package. Source code is currently available by request.

This article was originally published on Friday Jan 10th 2003
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