Apache's Java app server, Geronimo, will be ideal for running specialised apps such as compliance systems, according to one of the project's founders.

The server is available in early "Milestone" releases but is expected to go public sometimes next year, said Bruce Snyder, who is still working on the project. General availability will occur once the software receives J2EE 1.4 certification.

Synder claimed that Geronimo's lightweight kernel makes it more easily configurable for specialised applications that with rivals servers JBoss and WebLogic. His gave as an example plug-ins to ensure that users are complying with regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Geronimo's kernel is focused on areas such as component configuration and dependency management.

"The kernel makes us more amenable to do anything you want," said Snyder. Geronimo technology already is being used in commercial projects, even though it is only in a pre-release state, he added.

Apache is pushing for BSD-style open-source licensing of Geronimo, which Snyder claimed is less restrictive than GPL or LGPL licensing, which require that code changes be released back to the community at large. "For a lot of commercial companies that put patented content into source code, somehow they can't release that back out to the open source world, so there's a clear distinction," he explained.

An attendee at the Geronimo session noted the emphasis on the licensing difference during the Apache presentation. "I thought it was interesting that the licence seemed to be the primary driver for developing the product," said David Noble, principal consultant at consulting firm Qwan Technologies. Noble said GPL-style licensing is good for government usage while the Apache BSD format is more attuned to businesses.

Geronimo will feature support for EJB, messaging, and security. Clustering will be added to Geronimo at some point, although it is not a major focus at this point, it was said.

Apache also revealed that the planned 3.1 release of its open-source spam filter, SpamAssassin, is designed for speed and accuracy.

Expected in three to four months, version 3.1 will have faster filtering and quicker updates to rules, which look for spam-related patterns in messaging. Rules must be updated quickly so Apache can stay ahead of spammers trying to defeat the purpose of anti-spam software, said Theo Van Dinter, who serves on the Apache program management committee for SpamAssassin. "It's an arms race, really," he said.

Also planned for 3.1 is an "early exit" feature, in which if the spam engine recognises early in the process that an e-mail is spam, it will not process the e-mail through the entire rules engine.