W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > August 2007

Re: review of content type rules by IETF/HTTP community

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2007 20:02:49 -0700
Message-Id: <33E98E25-4599-4DCD-B6BA-97AD4A703F25@gbiv.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
To: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>

On Aug 26, 2007, at 1:39 PM, Robert Burns wrote:
> On Aug 26, 2007, at 3:32 PM, Julian Reschke wrote:
>> Robert Burns wrote:
>>>> 1) Where's the advantage over "application/octet-stream"?
>>> The advantage is that UAs are not supposed to sniff for content  
>>> when the content is delivered with a MIME type from the server  
>>> that's supposed to be treated as authoritative. Sending  
>>> 'unknown', could be defined by RFC and IANA as meaning  
>>> specifically the same as not sending a content-type header at all.
>> Understood. But that requires changes in the UAs. How exactly is  
>> this better compared to installing fixes for Apache?
> Well the request to fix Apatche goes back over 5 years and Apache  
> does not seem interested in fixing it. I was proposing another way  
> to go that didn't rely on Apache.

Apache is a foundation consisting of over 1500 volunteers across 50 or
so major projects, and about 75 products.  Apache doesn't do anything.
Individuals do things at Apache, all volunteers, and we work on whatever
can grab our attention at the time.

The DefaultType stuff came from 13 years ago when there were only a
dozen or so file types on the Web and *everything* else was indeed
plain text with no file extensions at all (the typical Unix habit).
The only real problem with it as a feature is that there does not
appear to be a way to turn it off, which is indeed a bug.  If I had
known about that bug, it would have been fixed, but it's been over a
decade since I personally had time to go through all of the old
enhancement requests to look for issues like this one.

>>>> 2) You may want to look at <http://issues.apache.org/bugzilla/ 
>>>> show_bug.cgi?id=13986#c55>.
>>> Yes, I did. In fact I cited it in my message. My comments were  
>>> drawn substantially from reading the comments in that bug. It  
>>> sounds like Apache does not want to fix the bug even though Boris  
>>> long-ago submitted a patch. Using a IANA registered 'unknown'  
>>> MIME type would accomplish the same thing (as long as the servers  
>>> could be configured and pre-configured with 'DefaultType unknnown'.
>> No, I meant comment #55 in that bug: It's going to be fixed soon.  
>> See also <http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/httpd-dev/ 
>> 200708.mbox/%3cDD9034EC-D3F4-4AF7-8AC1-8666A3B94C32@gbiv.com%3e>.
> Well comment # 55 is only the last in a long list of comments  
> ignored by Apache. Boris has alrready provide a patch and that was  
> ignored. I'm not really clear what you're asking about here. Roy  
> may provide a patch and that could be ignored.

I have a bit more influence over the process.  More importantly, I can
commit the change myself if all of the other maintainers agree, which
is why Julian seems so puzzled by your comments.

> And that patch does nothing for the enormous installed base of  
> Apache 1.3 installations. Apple (which is my Apache vendor) is  
> still selling products with Apache 1.3 as the default server. Maybe  
> that will change this year. I don't know, but it would be good to  
> get this on the older servers too.

As I said, there are at least five other ways to define a media type
and override anything in mime.types -- the notion that there is any
lack of such ability is complete bollocks.  What is lacking is good
documentation at each ISP for the particular set of ways that they
allow an author to override those mappings.  Anyone who wants to
contribute such documentation can do so -- the easiest way is to make
use of our wiki at


>> What's not clear yet if and when that change will make it into the  
>> 2.0.* and/or 2.2.* releases.
> And what about 1.3?

We may miss the current 1.3.x release -- it depends on whether I can
commit before the release manager kicks it into a tarball and vote.

....Roy (Apache co-founder and V.P., Apache HTTP Server Project)
Received on Monday, 27 August 2007 03:03:21 UTC

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