By Scott Gilbertson

Tubes so fast they’re blurry. Image: Wetsun/Flickr.

The team behind Nginx (pronounced engine-ex) have released version 1.4, which brings a number of new features, most notably support for the SPDY protocol.

SPDY, the HTTP replacement, promises to speed up website load times by up to 40 percent. Given that Nginx is the second most popular server on the web — powering big name sites like Facebook and WordPress — the new SPDY support should prove a boon for the nascent protocol. Apache, still far and away the most popular server on the web, also has a mod_spdy module.

SPDY support should also help make Nginx more appealing, not that it needs much help. Nginx’s winning combination of lightweight and fast have made it the darling of the web in recent years with everyone from Facebook to Dropbox relying on it in one form or another.

Indeed, part of Nginx’s success lies in its versatility. The server can be used for everything from a traditional high performance web server to a load balancer, a caching engine, a mail proxy or an HTTP streaming server.

It’s worth noting that if you’re installing Nginx 1.4 on a Linux server directly from your distro’s repos the new SPDY support may not be enabled. See the Nginx documentation for instructions on building from source with SPDY support enabled.

SPDY isn’t the only thing new in Nginx 1.4, there’s also support for proxying WebSocket connections and a new Gunzip module that decompresses gzip files for clients that do not support gzip encoded files.

For more details and to grab the latest Nginx source, head on over to the Nginx website.