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Understanding LAMP

By Martin Brown (Send Email)
Posted Dec 1, 2005


If you're at all familiar with open source software, chances are you've heard the phrase "LAMP stack" at some point. You may even know what it stands for. But do you know what LAMP actually is?

You've probably heard the acronym LAMP. You may even know what it means. But do you now what the LAMP stack really is and what it does?

The simple answer is LAMP is a Web application development and deployment environment that, although powerful, is also comparatively simple and easy to use. This article will explain what LAMP is, the different components of the LAMP environment, and how, when combined, they create such a powerful environment. We will also look at how LAMP technology can drive Web applications.

Exploding the Acronym

Simply exploding the acronym on a letter by letter basis gives us the following elements:

  • Linux
  • Apache Web server
  • MySQL database
  • Perl, Python, or PHP

Individually, each of these items is a powerful component in its own right. The key to the idea behind LAMP, a term originally coined by Michael Kunze in the German magazine c't in 1998, is the use of these items together. Although not actually designed to work together, these open source software alternatives are readily and freely available. This has lead to them often being used together. In the past few years, their compatibility and use together has grown and been extended. Certain extensions have even been created specifically to improve the cooperation between different components.

Today, the products that make up the LAMP stack are included by default in nearly all Linux distributions, and together they make a powerful web application platform. Figure 1 illiustrates the relationship between the components.

Figure 1
LAMP Relationships

LAMP Relationships

Each of the components in the LAMP stack is an example of Free or Open Source Software (FOSS). The benefit of the FOSS approach is three-fold. First, the nature of FOSS software means applications are available for free download, making them readily available to a wide range of people without payment. That makes the software incredibly attractive to a wide range of users who would otherwise have to pay for "professional" commercial tools, which is often an expensive step in producing a Web site.

Second, FOSS licenses are open and thus have few restrictions on their use and deployment of applications based on the FOSS technology. It is possible to develop and deploy LAMP-based projects without paying any license fees for distributing the software, and this, again, makes it popular for both hobbyists and professionals alike.

Third, and a major reason for the growth and use of FOSS technology (including LAMP), is that because users have access to the source it is much easier to fix faults and improve the applications. In combination with the open license, this simplifies the development process for many enterprises and gives them flexibility that simply isn't available within the confines of a proprietary or commercial-based product.

>> The Components of LAMP

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