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README

# A Web Server Called *Ebb*

Ebb aims to be a small and fast web server specifically for hosting 
web frameworks like Rails, Merb, and in the future Django.

It is not meant to be a full featured web server like Lighttpd, Apache, or
Nginx. Rather it should be used in multiplicity behind a 
[load balancer](http://brainspl.at/articles/2007/11/09/a-fair-proxy-balancer-for-nginx-and-mongrel) 
and a front-end server. It is not meant to serve static files in production.

## Design

The design is similar to the [Evented
Mongrel](http://swiftiply.swiftcore.org/mongrel.html) web server; except
instead of using [EventMachine](http://rubyeventmachine.com/) to drive
network interactions, the Ebb web server handles sockets directly in C and
employs the use of the [libev](http://software.schmorp.de/pkg/libev.html)
event loop.

Connections are processed as follows:

1. libev loops and waits for incoming connections.

2. When Ebb receives a connection, it passes the request into the
   [mongrel state machine](http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/browser/tags/rel_1-0-1/ext/http11/http11_parser.rl) 
   which securely parses the headers.

3. When the request is complete, Ebb passes the information to a user
   supplied callback.

4. The Ruby binding supplying this callback transforms the
   request into a [Rack](http://rack.rubyforge.org/) compatible `env` hash 
   and passes it on a Rack adapter.

Because Ebb is written mostly in C, other language bindings can be added to
make it useful to Non-Ruby frameworks. For example, a Python WSGI interface is
forthcoming.

## Install

The Ruby binding is available as a Ruby Gem. It can be install by executing

  `gem install ebb`

Ebb depends on having glib2 headers and libraries installed. For example, in
Macintosh if one is using Darwin ports then the following should do the trick
  
  `port install glib2`
  
Downloads are available at
the [RubyForge project page](http://rubyforge.org/frs/?group_id=5640).

## Running

Using the executable `ebb_rails` one can start Ebb with a Rails project. Use
`ebb_rails -h` to see all of the options but to start one can try
  
  `cd my_rails_project/; ebb_rails start`
  
To use Ebb with a different framework you will have to do a small amount of
hacking at the moment! :)

## Why?

Because by building the server in C one is able to side-step the 
limitations on speed of many scripting languages. Inefficiencies are okay
for quick and beautiful code, but for production web servers that might handle
thousands of requests a second, an attempt should be made to be as efficient
as possible in processing connections.

Following are some benchmarks. Please take these measurements with a grain of
salt. Benchmarks like these are notorious for presenting an inaccurate or
highly slanted view of how software performs. These are tests using a very
simple Rack applications, not with Ruby-on-Rails. The code for these can be
found in the `benchmark` directory.

![Response Size](http://s3.amazonaws.com/four.livejournal/20080227/response_size.png)

This shows how the web servers perform with respect to throughput (using a 
simple Rack application). Concurrency is at 50 clients.

![Concurrency](http://s3.amazonaws.com/four.livejournal/20080227/concurrency.png)

A simple concurrent clients benchmark serving a *hello world* page.

![Uploads](http://s3.amazonaws.com/four.livejournal/20080227/post_size.png)

Ebb processes uploads before handing it over to the web application. This 
allows Ebb to continue to process other clients while the upload is in 
progress. The cliff at 40k here is because Ebb's internal request
buffer is set at 40 kilobytes before it writes to file.

## Contributions

Contributions (patches, criticism, advice) are very welcome! The source code
is hosted at [repo.or.cz](http://repo.or.cz/w/ebb.git) (and also mirrored at
[github](http://github.com/ry/ebb/tree/master)). It can be retrieved by
executing

`git clone http://repo.or.cz/r/ebb.git`

I intend to keep the C code base very small, so do email me before writing any
large additions. Here are some features that I would like to add:
* Streaming responses!
* HTTP 1.1 Expect/Continue (RFC 2616, sections 8.2.3 and 10.1.1)
* A parser for multipart/form-data
* Optimize and clean up upload handling
* Option to listen on unix sockets instead of TCP
* Python binding

## (The MIT) License

Copyright © 2008 [Ry Dahl](http://tinyclouds.org) (ry at tiny clouds dot org)

<div id="license">
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining
a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the
"Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including
without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish,
distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to
permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to
the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be
included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND,
EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND
NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE
LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION
OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION
WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE. 
</div>
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