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Dedicated Server Glossary

80x86-Series Processors
The family of Intel microprocessors including Intel 80186, Intel 80286, Intel 80386, Intel 486. Also, in a more general sense, Intel Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium II and Pentium III. Also a reference to microprocessors from other manufacturers that use the same instruction set (e.g. AMD Athelon).

Access
Microsoft's proprietary database standard. Many corporate databases are Microsoft Access databases.

Active Server Page (ASP)
Server-generated (as opposed to human- written) Web page with an .ASP extension. It utilizes ActiveX scripting - usually Visual Basic Script or JavaScript . When a browser requests an ASP page, the Web server generates a page with HTML code and sends it back to the browser.

ActiveX Scripting
ActiveX is not a programming language, but rather a set of rules for how applications should share information. ActiveX controls have full access to the Windows operating system. This gives them much more power than Java applets, but with this power comes a certain risk that the applet may damage software or data on your machine. To control this risk, Microsoft developed a registration system so that browsers can identify and authenticate an ActiveX control before downloading it. Another difference between Java applets and ActiveX controls is that Java applets can be written to run on all platforms, whereas ActiveX controls are limited to Windows environments.

Application
A piece of software that runs on a computer. Business applications include word processors, spreadsheet programs and database programs. The most important application when running a Web site is the Web server software.

Application Program Interface (API)
APIs are sets of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer puts the blocks together. Most operating environments, such as Windows, provide an API so that programmers can write applications consistent with the operating environment. Although APIs are designed for programmers, they are ultimately good for users because they guarantee that all programs using a common API will have similar interfaces. This makes it easier for users to learn new programs.

Bandwidth
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred in a given amount of time. It is usually measured in bits per second (bps).

C++ Compiler
A programming language developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Labs. It adds object-oriented features to its predecessor, C. C++ is one of the most popular programming languages for graphical applications, such as those that run in Windows and Macintosh environments.

Common Gateway Interface (CGI)
A specification for sending data between Web server software and other applications . CGI programs are the most common way for Web pages to interact directly with users, including pages that process forms. It is considered a "Server Side" application, because the processing takes place on the Web server. This is different from such "Client Side" applications as Java applets, which are processed on the Web-user's computer.

Code
Code, or source code, is the list of machine instructions that make up an application . Source code is either open or closed.

Commercial Distribution
Software that is sold by a company. This could be a closed source code application like Microsoft's Office 2000, or a commercial version of an open source application, like Red Hat's Linux. If the program you're looking at is available as both a commercial distribution and a downloadable distribution (i.e. free), the commercial distribution will include extras like full user manuals, customer support and program extensions.

Crash
When a program terminates unexpectedly, due to an internal fault, a user error or some other unforeseen event, the program has "crashed." All types of software, from operating systems to applications to Web server software, are prone to the occasional crash. Stability is a measure of how crash resistant a piece of software is. The less likely that a piece of software will crash, the more "stable" that piece of software is.

Database
The equivalent of an electronic filing system. Information is stored in a database as a series of records, and each record contains a number of fields. For instance, a customer database would contain a unique record for each customer, and each record would contain fields such as "name," "address" and "phone number." The database can be searched and organized according to any of those fields.

Download
Receiving a document or file from another computer onto your local one, via a data connection.

Downloadable Distribution
A copy of a piece of software that you can download from the Internet. For open source software, this is usually a fully-functional copy of the same software you'd get from the commercial distribution but without any user manuals or support. For closed source software, downloadable distributions aren't usually available, because the software's author is selling the software, not the support materials. If a downloadable distribution is available, it's usually a crippled or time-limited evaluation version of the software.

Drag And Drop
This is clicking on a document or icon on your computer's desktop with the mouse and moving it to another location. This method of file management originated on the Apple Macintosh and soon migrated to the PC as part of the Windows operating system. Some Web server software, notably Microsoft's IIS, allows administrators to drag a document from their desktop into (or onto) the Web server, making it instantly available on the Web with a minimum of hassle.

FileMaker
Much as Access is Microsoft's main proprietary database standard, FileMaker is Apple's proprietary database .

FTP Server
The software that makes files available to Internet users to download and receives files they upload. While it is possible to set up file transfers using a Web server, these are usually more complicated, less versatile and slower.

GNU General Public License
The philosophy behind GNU is to produce software that is non-proprietary. Anyone can download, modify and redistribute software that is released under the GNU General Public License. The only restriction is that they cannot limit further redistribution. The GNU project was started in 1983 by Richard Stallman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Graphical Front End
The visual representation of the operating system that is displayed on a user's monitor. The windows desktop is one example. The opposite of a graphical front end is a text-based or command-line interface, like old DOS systems and the core Linux operating system. Unlike Windows, which includes a graphical front end as an integral part of the operating system, Linux has graphical user interfaces that are available separately (e.g. KDE and Gnome).

Hardware
Any physical object that's part of a computer system.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
The language used to define the structure and layout of a Web document. It uses a variety of standard tags and attribute which are read by the Web browser and translated into a Web page with the correct layout.

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 1.1
Defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands. For example, when you enter a URL in your browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested Web page.

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)
A protocol for retrieving email from an email server (like POP ). It includes functions, such as the ability to search through your messages by key word while they're still on the server, that POP doesn't offer.

Install
To install a piece of software means to copy the software onto your computer and configure it so that it's ready to run .

Internet Server API (ISAPI)
APIs that are designed for use with Microsoft's IIS Web server software. Several other companies' Web server software also support ISAPIs.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)
A company that provides Web servers with access to the Internet. ISP's also offer Web access to other users and to businesses.

Java
Java is an object-oriented computer language similar to C++, but simplified to eliminate language features that cause common programming errors. Java source code files (files with a .java extension) are compiled into a format called bytecode (files with a .class extension), which can then be executed by a Java interpreter. Compiled Java code can run on most computers, including UNIX, the Macintosh OS, and Windows, which makes it versatile enough to be used across the Web.

Java Database Connectivity (JDBC)
A Java API that enables Java programs to execute SQL statements. This allows Java programs to interact with any SQL-compliant database . Since nearly all database systems support SQL, and because Java itself runs on most platforms, JDBC makes it possible to write a single database application that can run on different platforms and interact with different database software. JDBC is similar to ODBC , but is designed specifically for Java programs, whereas ODBC is language-independent.

Java-heavy
A site that contains a lot of Java applets.

JavaScript
A scripting language designed by Netscape to enable Web designers to add dynamic content to their sites. Name to the contrary, it was developed seperately from Java. It is an open source language.

License
Defines who owns a piece of commercial software, who is authorized to use it and what they are allowed to use it for. Most closed source software comes with a license that allows only the initial purchaser of the software to use it, and only the software's creator to modify it. Open source software , on the other hand, is usually issued under the GNU general public license , which allows anyone to modify and redistribute it.

Mail server
A piece of software that accepts incoming email from the Internet and stores it until users decide to check their email. A mail server is to email as a Web server is to Web pages.

Multiple processors
A computer system containing more than one CPU, and at least two CPUs are processing different information at any given time, has multiple processors. (Thus, a system that has two processors that are mirroring each other's activity for redundancy purposes is not a true multiple processor system.) Multiple processors allow for greater computing power to be made available to the applications running on a computer, leading to greater stability .

NCSA httpd 1.3
The original pieces of Web server software upon which Apache is based.

Netscape server API (NSAPI)
Enables programmers to create Web-based applications that are more sophisticated and run much faster than applications based on CGI scripts. NSAPI's are API's for Netscape's Web servers.

Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)
A standard database access method developed by Microsoft to make it possible to access data from any application . In order for ODBC to function, however, both the application and the database must be ODBC compliant.

Open Source Software
Software for which the source code is freely available and modifiable. The opposite of open source is closed source, where the company that generates the software keeps the source code private and discourages third parties from tweaking it.

Patch
A piece of software code that's released after the main software is. Most patches either fix problems with the original code that went undiscovered before shipping, or upgrade the software by adding new features.

Perl
Short for Practical Extraction and Report Language. Programming language developed by Larry Wall, especially designed for processing text. Because of its strong text processing abilities, Perl has become one of the most popular languages for writing CGI scripts. Perl is an interpretive language, which makes it easy to build and test simple programs.

Performance
The efficiency with which server components have been integrated, and applications designed to run in the working environment.

Post Office Protocol (POP)
A protocol for retrieving email from an email server Like IMAP , although it lacks some of the functionality IMAP offers, such as the ability to search through your messages by key word while they're still on the server.

Processors, different
While the standard desktop PC is built around an 80x86 type processor, there are a number of other, more esoteric processors available. These are usually found in high-end desktop workstations or in large network servers.

Protocol
A format for transmitting data between two devices.

Proxy Server
A piece of software that sits between a client application (such as a Web browser) and the Internet. It intercepts all traffic flowing between the two and analyzes them This allows proxy servers to do two important things. One is to boost Internet access speeds for groups of users. Since the proxy server stores a "cache" of recently downloaded Web sites, any user that tries to access a Web site that has recently been accessed by another user is simply sent the cached version from the proxy server. The other important function is filtering. A proxy server can be set up to filter all attempts by users to access specific Web sites.

Python
An object-oriented programming language named after Monty Python's Flying Circus. It is very portable, as there are Python interpreters available for most operating systems. Although Python is copyrighted, the source code is freely available. It can be commercially re-sold.

Run
To operate a program.

Scaleable
In a scaleable system, growth is possible, if demand grows. Notebooks, for example, are not very scaleable, because it's hard to add additional hardware. Rack mounted servers, on the other hand, are scaleable, with the ability (in some very high-end servers) to add extra hard drives and RAM while the system is running.

Secure e-commerce transaction
An exchange of sensitive information (credit card numbers) in an Internet business where special measures are in place to ensure privacy. Most secure e-commerce transactions are handled using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol developed by Netscape. SSL uses a private key to encrypt data, so that only the Web server software and the client's browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer) can read the data.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
Protocol used for sending email messages between servers. Most email systems use SMTP to send messages back and forth across the Internet at a server level. Server-to-client email communication is usually handled via either POP or IMAP .

Software
Groups of instruction codes that tell a computer how to function. Operating systems are software, as are applications.

Source Code
See code .

Structured Query Language (SQL)
Originally designed by an IBM research center in 1974, SQL was first introduced as a standardized language for requesting information from commercial databases in 1979 by Oracle Corp. SQL is the closest thing to a standard for database queries that exists. It has managed to migrate from the mini computers and mainframes for which it was originally designed to the PC-based databases of today thanks, in a large part, to its support of databases.

SQL-Compliant Database
Any database that supports SQL as a query language.

SQL Server
Any database management system that can accept SQL-formatted queries. More specifically, the database systems produced by Sybase and Microsoft that are actually called "SQL Server."

SSL
See Secure E-commerce Transactions .

Stability
A measure of how robust a system (hardware or software) is. The more stable a piece of software, the less likely it is that the software will crash . Stability can often be improved by tweaking the system.

Streaming Audio And Video
Makes downloaded content available in the form of an un-interrupted stream of data, as opposed to a series of packets. This is achieved via a process known as caching, where several packets of information (e.g. several seconds of audio) are stored on the client's terminal and played back while further packets are downloaded. Streaming allows clients to watch large movie files or listen to lengthy audio broadcasts without having to wait for the entire file to download. It also allows live events to be "broadcast" over the Web.

Third party developer
A company that produces add-ons that compliment a software manufacturer's products. Third-party development is much more prevalent among open source software companies than among closed source ones.

Tweak
To tweak a piece of software or hardware means to customize it to your particular circumstances and operating environment. Tweaking usually involves configuring a number of settings. This ranges in difficulty.

Update
To improve software so that it has more functions or is more stable .

Upgrade
A new version of a piece of software that updates an older version of the same software. Some software packages offer free upgrades as they come out. Others require the user to pay for each upgrade. It makes sense, when shopping around for software, to check if upgrades are included free of charge.

Upload
Transmitting a document or computer file from your computer onto another one, via a data connection. To download is the opposite.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
A URL is the global address of any document available on the World Wide Web. URLs come in the form: http://www.domainname.com/folder/document.html, where "http://" indicates that the document is a Web resource, "www.domainname.com" is the name of the server the document is stored on, "/folder/" is the name of the sub-directory the document is stored in on the server, and "document.html" is the name of the document itself.

URL redirection
When a Web server "points" users' browsers to a different server than the one the user is currently trying to access. For example, if a user tries to access www.address1.com, they may be re-directed to www.address2.com.

Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript)
A scripting language developed by Microsoft and supported by the Explorer. It is based on the Visual Basic programming language, making it easy to learn for Visual Basic users. It allows Web developers to add interactive controls like buttons and scroll bars to their web pages.

Web-Mail Access
Allows you to check your e-mail via a standard Web browser, as opposed to a POP or IMAP enabled e-mail program. One advantage of this is that you can check your e-mail from any computer with a Web browser and an Internet connection, including those in public places.

Web pages
Documents that are hosted on Web servers and made available to the public via the World Wide Web. They are formatted in HTML and may contain additional features.

WebSite API (WSAPI)
API's designed specifically for O'Reilly & Associates WebSite Pro. Although WebSite Pro also supports Microsoft's ISAPI's , Web pages hosted under WebSite Pro run faster using the native WSAPI's.

Wizards
Wizards are software "assistants" built into Microsoft programs, such as IIS. They help the user get the software properly configured and running. They also walk the user through routine tasks such as system maintenance.

 

 

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