Apache runs on many flavors of Unix and Unix-like operating systems. Version 1.3 introduced a port to the Windows family of operating systems, often named Win32 after the name of the common API. Because of the many differences between Unix and Windows, the Win32 port of Apache is still branded as beta quality—it hasn't yet reached the stability and performance levels of the native Unix counterpart.

Another hindrance to using mod_perl on Windows is that current versions of Perl are not thread-safe on Win32. As a consequence, mod_perl calls to the embedded Perl interpreter must be serialized (i.e., executed one at a time). For these reasons, we recommend that mod_perl on Windows be used only for testing purposes, not in production.

Building mod_perl from source on Windows is a bit of a challenge. Development tools such as a C compiler are not bundled with the operating system, and most users expect a point-and-click installation, as with most Windows software. Additionally, all software packages need to be built with the same compiler and compile options. This means building Perl, Apache, and mod_perl from source, which is quite a daunting task.

Fortunately, Randy Kobes maintains a Windows distribution of mod_perl that includes all the necessary tools, including Perl, Apache, and a host of useful CPAN modules. Using this distribution provides an out-of-the-box Apache + mod_perl combo in minutes.

The distribution comes with extensive documentation. Take the time to read it, particularly if you want to install the software in a location different from the default. In the following installation, we'll use the default locations and options.

Here are the steps for installing mod_perl:

  1. Download the Windows distribution. Download perl-win32-bin-x.x.exe from http://perl.apache.org/download/binaries.html. This self-extracting archive yields four directories: Apache/, Perl/, openssl/, and readmes/.

  2. Install the software. Move the Apache/ and Perl/ directories to C:\. Edit C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT to install the Perl executable directories in your system's search path:

    SET PATH=C:\Perl\5.6.1\bin;C:\Perl\5.6.1\bin\MSWin32-x86;"%PATH%"

    Then restart Windows for this change to take effect.

  3. Test the Perl installation. Open a DOS prompt window to verify that Perl is installed correctly and learn the version number:

    C:\> perl -v
    This is perl, v5.6.1 built for MSWin32-x86
    Copyright 1987-2000, Larry Wall
  4. Start Apache. The distribution comes with a ready-made configuration file for mod_perl, which we'll use to start Apache. From the C:\Apache directory, start Apache:

    C:\Apache> apache.exe -f conf\httpd.conf

    Now, issuing a request for http://localhost/ displays the usual Apache "It Worked!" page.

  5. Test mod_perl. The distribution comes with a preconfigured mod_perl handler and Apache::Registry directory. We can test our mod_perl-enabled server by issuing the following requests:


We now have a fully functional mod_perl server. The example scripts described in the rest of this chapter can be used with minor modifications to file paths and URIs. In particular, change all instances of /home/stas to C:\Apache\, and change all instances of http://localhost/perl to http://localhost/mod_perl.