Nearly everybody setting up an OSM tile server uses either the Apache/mod_tile/renderd or the Apache/mod_tile/Tirex combination. The renderd software has been around for while. When we needed something more flexible two years ago, Frederik Ramm and I created Tirex. To keep the development work needed small and make it easier to switch from renderd, Tirex uses the same Apache/mod_tile frontend as renderd. We had plans to add different frontends, but they never materialized. Apache/mod_tile is difficult to configure and not very flexible, but it does its job well enough. I wrote a proof-of-concept frontend using node.js, but that was never taken up either.