Forum OpenACS Development: Re: Is it time for NaviServ Again?

Posted by Carl Robert Blesius on
Would just like to share (with permission) a calm constructive post from the slightly more heated parallel AOLServer thread. It is by John Buckman who uses the server for some great heavily trafficked production websites (e.g and

Begin forwarded message:

From: John Buckman
Date: August 3, 2007 1:24:03 AM EDT
Subject: [AOLSERVER] learning from naviserver
Reply-To: AOLserver Discussion

In no way do I want to be king, and in an effort to calm things down a bit, let me say that I'm really, really happy with aolserver, and the last major release had amazing things in it. My only real nit is that so many cool things are not-so-well-documented, but hell, it's open source. I just spot things in the text files, and then figure it out by reading the C code, which is often commented, but always clean and readable.

On the subject of cool things and not-so-well-documented, I'd like to bring up Naviserver (you can find it on sourceforge, it's an independent fork of aolsever, at Their fork of aolserver has an insane number of changes to it, and lots of great ideas (look at There's a handful of developers working on it, and it seems like a real hotbed of innovation.

I've not used naviserver, though I evaluated it seriously, because it has so many differences to aolserver, almost all undocumented, that it was really hard for me to get up to speed to, and I found it less reliable than aolserver, probably because of all those innovations. I kind of like the slower pace of aolserver, I can actually run a production web site on it. This is not meant as an insult to Vlad and the other Naviserver developers, I'm just pointing out how the two development communities differ.

However, I was wondering if we should perhaps look at merging back some of the best things in naviserver, back into aolserver. In fact, maybe we should treat the aolserver/naviserver split like ubuntu treats its two releases, and recognize that naviserver as an innovative, highly chaotic playground, and merging back in the best ideas from it back into aolserver after a long delay (6 months to a year) once each feature has settled down a bit and we can evaluate whether, in hindsight, it really was a good idea and the way it was implemented turned out well.

I'd be game to go through the naviserver changelog in the future, and be part of a discussion of what is in there that we might want to merge back into aolserver.


Like most of us here who run production websites I am mainly interested in just installing AOLServer or Naviserver and forgetting about it b/c it does what it is supposed to do for a busy site without much tweaking at all (which has been my experience so far). Whichever way we go, I hope we continue to see sensible defaults and minimal configuration requirements in the future.