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What Is LAMP Hosting?
When you build a website, you need somewhere for it to live. That's where a Web host comes into the picture. Of the various types of Web hosts, LAMP is currently the most popular.
What Is LAMP?
LAMP is an acronym that originally stood for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. These elements form what is commonly referred to as a "stack," or collection of programs that work together. Since all the elements are open-source, and can therefore be replaced with alternative applications, LAMP can also refer to a generic software stack, although the original configuration is still one of the most popular.
Linux is a free, open-source, UNIX-style operating system originally developed by Linus Torvalds. Because it is open-source, and therefore open to customization, many different companies and organizations have developed their own flavors, or distributions, of Linux. Many of these distributions are optimized for different purposes, including Web hosting.
Apache is an open-source HTTP server application. At the time of writing, Apache is used to drive 58.9% of known websites, making it the most commonly used Web server in the world, a distinction it has enjoyed since April, 1996.
MySQL is the most popular open-source database in use. It boasts over 100 million installations throughout its history, and is heavily used to power Web applications. Its ease-of-use, stability and performance have been significant factors in its widespread adoption.
PHP is a server-side scripting language that processes requests, accesses the MySQL database and helps generate Web pages for Apache to serve.
Perl and Python have become popular alternatives to PHP. Both languages are high-level programming languages that excel at scripting and parsing text, making them ideal for Web-based use.
Despite its popularity, LAMP is by no means the only Web server stack in use. Because each of the components are free and open-source, variations have sprung up that replace one or more of the included elements.
For example, WAMP is the same software stack running on Windows rather than Linux. Similarly, WIMP goes a step further, replacing Apache with Microsoft's IIS.
Often, these variations arise out of a need to support specific software. Businesses and organizations that rely heavily on Microsoft technology may find that a Windows-based stack better suits their needs.
For most other organizations, however, LAMP is usually a more attractive option, due to its free, open-source nature.
LAMP has a proven track record of running some of the world's biggest, most complex websites and applications. Its free, open-source nature has been a major factor in its adoption, but free only goes so far. LAMP's capabilities and scalability have stood the test of time.
As a result, the vast majority of Web hosting companies offer at least one, if not several, LAMP configurations, and many exclusively support LAMP. Since the various components are freely available, it is possible to run a LAMP server from your desktop machine. This is rarely, if ever, an ideal solution, however, as the hardware and Internet connection of a standard desktop machine are not on par with a dedicated server.
With a fully managed LAMP hosting solution, your website is hosted on hardware specifically configured to withstand the rigors of Web hosting. A hosting company can also guarantee the necessary bandwidth to ensure your website functions smoothly, regardless of the number of visitors.
Most importantly, with a fully managed solution, the hosting company is responsible for the maintenance, updates and security of your LAMP server.
Although the various components of a LAMP server may be free, using a fully managed service obviously comes at a cost. Even so, this is often less than competing products, since the hosting company has lower overhead using open-source software.
LAMP Pros and Cons
- Free components
- Lower end-user cost for fully managed hosting
- Proven track record.
- May not work for some Windows-based shops.
Points to Remember
LAMP hosting is virtually the de facto standard for modern Web hosting. Thanks to its widespread use, there are a wealth of available options. If you're looking for a near-perfect blend of features, reliability, scalability and price, you'll be hard pressed to improve on a LAMP-based setup.
LAMP Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is LAMP?
LAMP is an acronym for a common web services stack. A stack is a group of software that works together to create a complete platform. The individual components are Linux (operating system), Apache (web server), MySQl (database), and PHP (programming language).
Note that the "P" in "LAMP" often refers to Perl or Python rather than PHP.
What is LAMP used for?
LAMP is widely used for web hosting. It can be used for hosting static websites, as well as complex sites and web applications.
How much do the LAMP components cost?
Each of the individual elements of LAMP are free, open-source software. They are maintained by groups of volunteers around the world, as well as organizations and companies committed to supporting open-source software.
What role does Linux play?
Linux is an operating system (OS) that serves as the foundation of the LAMP stack. The Linux kernel, or core of the OS, was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. It was built on top of the GNU project, started by Richard Stallman, which was gradually building a free Unix-style operating system. Since a kernel is not an operating system, it is actually GNU/Linux, although most people know it as simply Linux.
What is Apache?
Apache is a web server application that processes HTTP requests, HTTP being the protocol that serves as the backbone of the World Wide Web. Apache is the most widely used web server, with approximately 50% of the market.
What is MySQL?
MySQL a relational database, and the second most widely used database in the world. It is only surpassed by SQLite, which is included on every iOS and Android device. MySQL was designed with speed in mind and is ideally suited to web application development. It is widely used by major companies, including Twitter, Facebook, and Google.
What is PHP?
PHP is a server-side scripting language that acts as the bridge between Apache and MySQL. It processes requests, accesses the database, and generates web pages for Apache to serve to the user.
What alternatives are there to LAMP?
Because each component is a stand-alone element, it is common for companies to swap out one or more parts of the stack. One variation, called WAMP, involves replacing Microsoft Windows as the OS instead of Linux. Similarly, WIMP is a stack were Windows replaces Linux and IIS, Microsoft’s web server, replaces Apache.
The most common substitutions, however, are different languages for PHP, and Nginx for the Apache web server.
Is it hard to get LAMP hosting?
No. Because of its popularity, the vast majority of web hosting companies provide LAMP hosting. Most of these companies offer multiple LAMP configurations and many of them specialize exclusively in LAMP hosting. Even among companies that offer different types of hosting, LAMP hosting is often cheaper than competing stacks because the components are open-source. This is especially true when compared to WAMP/WIMP. Because these stacks rely on Microsoft software, licensing fees tend to raise the cost of plans based on these stacks.
Is LAMP hosting right for you?
Unless your company exclusively runs Microsoft applications, there is probably very little that WAMP/WIMP can offer above and beyond LAMP. The same is true for any other competing stack.
Unless an organization has some specific need to run a specific variation, LAMP usually offers the best value. Your company will benefit from reduced cost and a wider array of available applications and services.