Hiawatha is an open source webserver with a focus on security. I started Hiawatha in January 2002. Before that time, I had used several webservers, but I didn't like them. They had unlogical, almost cryptic configuration syntax and none of them gave me a good feeling about their security and robustness. So, I decided it was time to write my own webserver. I never thought that my webserver would become what it is today, but I enjoyed working on it and liked to have my own open source project. In the years that followed, Hiawatha became a fully functional webserver.

Version history

Like every new project, Hiawatha started very small. All the nice features Hiawatha has today, weren't available in the beginning. To give you an idea about how Hiawatha grew up, here is an overview of the most important Hiawatha releases and their best new features.

For a list of the most important capabilities of the Hiawatha webserver, take a look at this feature list.

Project goals

Because of my great interest in IT security, I paid extra attention to security while I was working on Hiawatha. Beside all the default security measures you can expect from a modern webserver, there are a lot of security features in Hiawatha you won't find in any other webserver. Many of them started as an experiment, but in the meantime, most of them have proven to be very usefull.

A second thing I wanted my webserver to be is easy-to-use. This resulted in a readable configuration syntax and not having to be a HTTP or CGI expert in order to get Hiawatha running.

I strongly believe that many features you find in several other webservers, shouldn't be placed inside a webserver but in a web application. They make them big and bloated. Hiawatha only has the features necessary to do what a webserver has to do; serving web applications. Hiawatha's small size makes it therefor perfect for embedded systems and older hardware.


Hiawatha started as a webserver for my own Debian Linux server, but in the meantime it has become available on many operating systems. Compile and run tests of Hiawatha have successfully been done (by myself and others) on Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Fedora, Slackware, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, MacOS X, Solaris and Cygwin. Because of the use of a platform-independent build system, it's very likely that Hiawatha will compile and run on other Unix-clones as well.


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