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update on apache and content negotiation

Apache 1.3.4 has come out and they incorporated the patch I sent in to
fix a bug in the content negotiation. Unfortunately, more complaints had
been sent in regarding problems with www.debian.org (which had the patch
applied to 1.3.3) so I suspected there was something else wrong.
I finally got around to looking at it and found that I had only fixed
half the problem - it wasn't until a few more languages were added that
the the other bug happened to show itself.

A patch has been submitted to apache (internal id mod_negotiation/3688)
and should show up in the next release. Depending on what happens with yet
another problem described below, a patched version of mod_negotiate will
be provided for 1.3.3 or 1.3.4 .

Before installing 1.3.4, I decided to test it. It appears that there is
code in 1.3.4 to support something called 'transparent content negotiation'.
It appears to be an improvement/extension on content negotiation(*) that
allows the browser to receive feedback from the browser on the available
choices and make the final decision itself (this could be automatic or the
browser can supply the user with the choices). It appears that the rfc hasn't
been finalized so it is unclear how stable the implementation is.

The problem is that when I tried using lynx with 1.3.4, I am always presented
with the list of choices. This is true even if the preferred language is
set to 'en' so that only the english version is valid. This whole thing is
eating up more time than I have to devote to it (without neglecting debian)
so I'm trying to get others to look into it.

To sum up: there are still problems with the content negotiation in apache
and I don't recommend people upgrade yet. When I find out whether the problem
is with lynx, apache, or my configuration I'll report back.

Jay Treacy

(*)content negotiation should have been called content selection since there
is no actual negotiation going on. The browser simply presents its
preferrences and the server then serves the document it deems best.

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