These elements form what is commonly referred to as a “stack,” or collection of software that works together.
Why LAMP is Useful
A LAMP stack is a web platform typically used to run dynamic websites and servers.
This is the most common and preferred platform on which developers create deploy web applications. Why? Because of its popularity and open-source nature, a LAMP stack provides a solid and reliable foundation for web hosting.
How the Components of LAMP Work Together
The reason that it’s called LAMP stack is because the components that make it up are stacked upon each other. Linux is the base layer in the stack, then Apache sits on top of this OS as the web server.
Then, the MySQL database is there to store the information, and PHP is the programming language that is used to display the data and interact with it.
This short video explains the LAMP stack in simple terms.
Since all the elements are open-source, and can 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.
For example, the “P” in LAMP stands for PHP but people sometimes also use Perl or Python instead.
And, the “L” stands for Linux, but developers can also build their stack on a Windows operating system (WAMP) instead of Linux.
How to Install a LAMP Stack
Developers install a LAMP stack when they want to create their own hosting environment on a computer.
When you get a LAMP stack, you are getting the full bundle of this software to install. This makes it easy for developers to quickly set up their own hosting.
LAMP and Operating System Choice
Many people use Ubuntu to install a LAMP stack onto.
Ubuntu is an open-source operating system. Since it is a Linux distribution, Ubuntu fulfills the first requirement of a LAMP stack, the Linux operating system.
Then, you can use Ubuntu’s package manager to install the rest of the software easily.
This makes it simple for developers to install Apache, MySQL, and PHP onto Ubuntu using their command line.
Linux and LAMP
Linux is the base of the LAMP stack. It provides that operating system that everything else is installed on top of.
Linux, originally developed by Linus Torvalds, is an operating system that is:
Reasonably supported by the internet community
More secure due to its lesser popularity (which makes it a less appealing target)
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. For example, Ubuntu is a popular operating system that is a distribution of Linux.
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.
Why use Apache?
Apache web servers allow computers to host websites that can be accessed via web browser.
Web hosting companies usually offer Apache because it’s open-source software and therefore free to use. This allows them to keep hosting costs down.
This is compared to other server software like Windows Server which requires a commercial license and results in more expensive hosting.
What is MySQL?
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.
Some of the significant factors in MySQL’s widespread adoption include its:
Ease of use
(Lack of) startup cost
MySQL is an important part of any PHP application because it provides a database for adding and managing content.
MySQL is a database management system that gives you access to the databases where your websites store information. For example, your database will contain media files and text files that your website displays.
What is phpMyAdmin?
phpMyAdmin is an administration tool for MySQL that lets you manage your MySQL databases.
Many web hosts provide this application pre-installed on their control panel.
PHP is a server-side scripting language that processes requests, accesses the MySQL database and helps generate Web pages for Apache to serve.
So, PHP is the programming language that’s responsible for processing the code to display the dynamic content on your website.
PHP is used in a wide variety of contexts, from content management systems like Drupal and WordPress to websites like Facebook and Slack. Did you know you can create an entire website from just PHP?
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.
What are Some Alternatives to the LAMP Stack?
“Not everyone has the time or budget to toss out and recode the old in the latest, trendiest framework, nor should you throw away the rock-solid reliability of battle-tested tools like Apache, MySQL, or PHP. But for green-field projects that could benefit from flexibility, simplicity, and performance, going MEAN may make your life better than you think.” – Peter Wayner, InfoWorld
Despite its popularity, LAMP is by no means the only Web server stack in use.
Because each of the components is free and open-source, variations have sprung up that replace one or more of the included elements.
Some Web Development Stack Options
LEt’s compare some web development stack options below:
What is WAMP?
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.
MAMP is a variant based on macOS. It has an easy-to-use interface with a single button to start your server. It offers options to mix in Nginx and to use PERL or Python instead of PHP. Note: MAMP now offers its product for Windows.
Why Choose a LAMP Variant?
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.
What’s the Reason for LAMP’S Widespread use?
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.
Local Hosting vs. Commercial Hosting
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.
Why Use Fully Managed LAMP Hosting?
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.
What Does LAMP Cost?
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.
My Top Three Choices: The Best LAMP Hosting
Don’t know where to start your web hosting search?
Here are three of my personal favorites to give you a head start.
Bluehost is one of the most popular hosting companies. The prices for their cheapest shared plans are extremely competitive, putting them just slightly under those of GreenGeeks.
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.
About Ji Guo
Ji's background is in journalism, digital marketing, and internet startups. He has studied at various places, including Yale University. His work focuses on digital marketing, growth, and internet startups. He has written widely for publications including Newsweek.