Google launches Page Speed module

Google, as part of its "make the web faster so you can view more adverts per minute initiative," has launched a module for popular open-source web server Apache that it claims can double its performance.

Announced by product manager Richard Rabbat, the module is an implementation of the recommendations made by Google last year in a project known as Page Speed.

Dubbed, for obvious reasons, mod_pagespeed, the Apache module makes a raft of changes that Rabbat claims, "are a pain to do manually, but that mod_pagespeed excels at." This includes making on-the-fly changes to pages from a content management system (CMS) without having to modify the CMS itself, recompressing an image if its HTML context changes in order to only serve the bytes required, and extending the cache lifetime of static images such as logos to a year while still allowing the files to be updated at any time.

Rabbat claims that these optimisations, along with twelve more, have been tested to reduce page load times by 50 per cent on average - and, in some cases, can speed things up significanly more.

Hosting service Go Daddy has volunteered to be a test-bed for the technology, with president Warren Adelman claiming; "Go Daddy engineers are seeing a dramatic decrease in load times of customers' websites using mod_pagespeed and other technologies provided [by Google]." He said his company hopes to roll the module out to its entire 8.5 million users in the near future.

The mod_pagespeed module is compatible with Apache version 2.2, and Google has compiled the package into RPM - for CentOS, Fedora, and Red Hat-based systems - and DEB - for Debian and Ubuntu-based systems - packages.

All packages, plus information on how to install and use the module, are available on the Page Speed Google Code site.