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Exploring LAMP Stack

by: Hostwinds Team  /  November 16, 2019

Have you ever seen one of those delicately-placed rock pyramids that stand strong and stay stable when they appear as if they shouldn't?

It's a mystery just how they remain perfectly balanced. It is also a mystery why just looking at these anomalies somehow instantly makes one feel zen. That's neither here nor there. However, it is worth mentioning that the renowned web stack, LAMP Stack, is quite similar to those zen piles of rocks. Each of the four technologies comprising LAMP Stack work together famously, balancing (or running, instead) on top of the other.

The 'LAMP' in LAMP Stack is an acronym for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

All four of these software 'rocks' are open-source, AKA free! No fees associated with licensing or anything of the sort are involved when one uses LAMP Stack. LAMP Stack is an excellent tool for developers, as it makes it much more convenient to create applications and websites. This web stack is kind of like a time-saving detour that cuts corners by lumping complementary software components into one jumbo package.

For this blog post, we will try to imagine LAMP Stack as one of those stacks of rocks balancing on one another with ease. These 'rocks' are often referred to as 'layers,' but in good ole Hostwinds fashion, we're going to mix it up a bit.

Hence, zen rocks.

LAMP Stack is very customizable, making it attractive because you don't technically have to use all four technologies. Instead, you can swap out one or two alternatives depending on what you need. We'll discuss that more in a bit, but first, an important note.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although the 'M' in LAMP first stood for MySQL, MariaDB has since taken over that spot. MySQL was replaced shortly after its ownership changed to Oracle in 2010. This change was a big concern for those using LAMP Stack because the main goal of the software bundle was to ensure it was always open-source and continuously maintained by an open-source community. As such, MariaDB and other relational database management systems like MongoDB now constitute the 'M' in LAMP Stack.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: LAMP Stack happens to be a 1-click install option available to add to a cloud server or VPS in the Hostwinds Cloud Portal! This blog piece includes a quick bonus tutorial on installing LAMP Stack on a cloud server or VPS.

What is LAMP Stack?

LAMP Stack Definition: LAMP Stack is a sturdy and well-known web stack that has been around for quite a long time. It is relatively simple to employ because all four technologies, L (Linux), A (Apache), M (MariaDB), and P (PHP), work together well and complement one another nicely. Each of these elements falls under the FOSS category.

What Does FOSS Stand For?

FOSS Stands for 'Free and Open-Source Software.'

Now, another question about LAMP Stack:

What is a Web Stack?

A web stack, sometimes referred to as a solution stack or software stack, is a group of software that functions cohesively for web development.

Web stacks are convenient because dynamic websites can run on them without requiring anything else. All the pieces of a web stack come together to form a platform ideal for web development. Several highly complex applications such as WordPress run on top of LAMP Stack. LAMP Stack and other stacks like it are beneficial when creating dynamic websites and large web applications.

LAMP Stack is the poster child for web stacks because it is one of the oldest out there. Even after boatloads of other web stacks came to fruition, LAMP Stack was still used often to create various websites and applications.

LAMP Stack is known to be Efficacious, Strong, Reliable, Secure, and Adaptable.

Efficacious because it makes it faster, easier, and more convenient to build even the most intricate websites.

Strong & Reliable because it is so old, it now has a giant community that not only manages it but also offers support to those who need help using it.

Secure because its architecture involves encryption and extensive security measures to prevent hacking.

Adaptable because LAMP Stack allows you to tac on modules to extend or customize functionality.

LAMP Stack is modular, meaning it supports innumerable third-party modules and extensions. If you need more than LAMP Stack offers, you'll likely be able to find a helpful module supported by the web stack.

The following excerpt from our "LAMP Stack Application Overview" guide in the Hostwinds Knowledge Base details more advantages of working with LAMP Stack:

"One reason you may want to use the LAMP Stack, over cPanel, for example, could be that you are not looking to spend money on a cPanel license as you only need the base functionality of a PHP Web server. Along with being a quite popular environment for web servers, it has a great deal of documentation for each of the programs involved."

Click below to review the rest of that spectacular guide!

LAMP Stack Application Overview

Now let's investigate each of the software 'rocks' amounting to LAMP Stack.

LAMP Stack Architecture

Beginning with Linux, we will now break down the four pieces that come together to complete the LAMP Stack puzzle.

1. Linux

The base rock upon which the other three rocks balance is Linux. Why, you ask? Linux is the underlying base upon which all the other STACK pieces run.

What is Linux?

Linux is an open-source operating system thanks to rules written by the Apache Software Foundation. These rules confirm that anyone can use the Linux OS for anything.

Linux stands out due to its flexible configuration options.

In Terms of LAMP Stack, Linux connects the physical server to the rest of the components. Apache, MySQL, and PHP all run on Linux.

2. Apache

Now that you have your Linux operating system, you'll need a server to host your information. Thus, Apache becomes the rock that rests upon Linux in this analogical rock stack.

What is Apache?

Apache, or Apache HTTP Server, is a prevalent web server. Apache hosts the files and data for websites and web applications. The Apache Software Foundation coordinated with a group of coders to create this open-source web server. It was one of the first web servers to come to fruition.

Apache is called an HTTP server because it uses the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to serve information requested from website users.

In Terms of LAMP Stack, Apache is the server that communicates with the operating system to serve information requested by users when they interact with dynamic websites.

Although Apache is the web server that typically represents the 'A' in LAMP, alternatives such as Ngnix can be swapped. LAMP Stack gracefully transforms to LEMP (Linux, Ngnix, MySQL, PHP) Stack with no problems at all.

3. MariaDB

The third little rock is MariaDB; however, as mentioned above, it's a bit complicated.

What is MariaDB?

MariaDB is a relational database management system that stores data for websites and applications. It uses a complex algorithm to organize data into tables. MariaDB and relational database management systems are helpful if you have content on your website that changes without the page reloading.

MariaDB compliments MySQL, so if you previously used MySQL, you could migrate to MariaDB with ease.

In Terms of LAMP Stack, MariaDB houses the databases required to store website data. The databases are queried whenever the information in the database needs to be displayed to the site users. You would use a database, for instance, to store usernames and passwords for your site's users.

NOTE: If the website is static, the database wouldn't be necessary.

4. PHP

That tiny stone balancing on the top of the rock pyramid is PHP.

What is PHP?

PHP is a server-side scripting language that was designed to foster rapid development. It is associated with simplicity and convenience.

Now, are you by any chance wondering what in the world a 'server-side' language is? Are you by any chance wondering what in the world a 'scripting' language is?

If so, click the link below to learn about PHP and many of the key terms associated with it.

About PHP

PHP communicates with the database to allow for automation.

In Terms of LAMP Stack, PHP works with the database. PHP either grabs info from the database or adds data to the database. When a request is made, PHP works with the server, Apache, to execute the script. The server then gives the translated information to the browser to display to the user.

NOTE: Technically, rather than laying on top of Apache, PHP is actually a rock nested inside the Apache rock. Why, you ask? PHP's interpreter translates the information amounting to the script on the Apache web server. Then Apache transfers the output to the web browser to display nicely to the individual viewing the site.

Alternatives for PHP include Python and Perl.


To sum up,

1. A website user asks for something.

2. Apache works with PHP to translate and execute the script to serve the request.

3. PHP knocks on MariaDB's door and asks for the content contained in the database.

4. PHP translates that information on the Apache web server.

5. Apache sends the information to the browser.

If data is inputted into the website, PHP's interpreter translates the information on the web server. The result is sent to MariaDB to store it securely.

Linux is what allows all this communication between the other three to take place. It's the foundation upon which they all pass information back and forth.

There you have it, the LAMP Stack. Speaking of, did we mention Hostwinds offers LAMP Stack, and LEMP Stack for that matter, as a 1-click install on the Cloud Portal's 'Create a Server' page?

LAMP Stack 1-Click Install in Hostwinds' Cloud Portal

Similar to LAMP Stack itself, the LAMP Stack 1-click install template in the Cloud Portal allows you to consolidate several steps into one. Click the 'LAMP Stack' option in the 'Applications' tab when creating your cloud server or VPS, and boom, it's on the server.

Allow us to elaborate.

Here is how to navigate to the Cloud Portal and create a cloud server with LAMP Stack installed onto it:

1. Visit and click the 'Client Login' link at the top of the page >> Enter the email and password associated with your Hostwinds account to login to your Client Area

2. From the Client Area, click the 'Cloud Control' link on the royal blue navigation bar >> Click 'Cloud Portal'

3. Click the green 'Create' button to the top right of the page >> Click the 'Servers' option

4. Click the 'Applications' tab >> Click 'LAMP Stack'

5. Make the selections necessary to create a cloud server that meets your unique requirements >> Click the green 'CREATE SERVER' button at the bottom of the page

For more detailed instructions on how to install LAMP Stack onto a Hostwinds VPS or cloud server, as well as information about how to reinstall a current VPS or cloud server to have LAMP Stack on it, click the link below.

How to Install the LAMP Stack on a VPS / Cloud Server

See, installing LAMP Stack onto a Hostwinds cloud server is quick and painless! Now that you've got your server all set up with LAMP Stack, it's time to explore the wonderful world of LAMP Stack.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Linux remains a true force to contend with even after the rise of a variety of other web stacks. Why? LAMP Stack's expansive community keeps it alive and relevant year after year. The fact that it's always free and consistently modular certainly doesn't hurt either.

That said, we are curious to hear your thoughts on the subject. Would you say LAMP Stack is still the leading web stack?

Written by Hostwinds Team  /  November 16, 2019