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If I want to serve some static content over http from Ubuntu, with an emphasis on security and efficiency (at low-moderate load), what's the best choice?

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We are using micro-httpd for this purpose.

It is very small and started by inetd for every single request, so it is only good for low-load environments, but it does what we need it do to. The only configuration options are the directory to be served and the port to listen on. For SSL/HTTPS support, stunnel would be used (a wrapper between unencrypted and ssl-encrypted connections).

Some more information from the man page:

It implements all the basic features of an HTTP server, including:

  • Security against ".." filename snooping.
  • The common MIME types.
  • Trailing-slash redirection.
  • index.html
  • Directory listings.
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Apache is very secure and extremely efficient at serving static content, especially at low-to-moderate load. It is also only an apt-get away, no additional configuration needed.

Is there anything which makes you to look for another web server?

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