Turn on the LAMP!

Posted: 02/27/2013
By: Eric S.

What is LAMP?

LAMP or the LAMP stack is a group of software programs used to serve web content.  LAMP is an acronym for a collection of programs, Linux (Operating System), Apache (HTTP server), MySQL (Database), and PHP (scripting language, sometimes Perl or Python instead).   These programs, when used together, can deliver dynamic website content to your users.  Each component of the LAMP stack is a reliable, enterprise-level, efficient, and versatile tool.  Since each component is Open Source, it is available for your hosting environment for little or no cost.

Why Should I Use LAMP?

As I mentioned earlier, each piece of software is reliable and versatile.  It is able to be used to serve all sorts of content from web applications to E-Commerce sites, and there is very little that it won't do.  It is able to keep pace even as your site grows and evolves, from small low traffic sites up to large high traffic sites across many servers.  This is why it is so commonly used-it is easy to start with and hard to outgrow, all while be very cost-effective.

Best Practices & Common Mistakes when choosing LAMP

One important tip, regardless of the software used to serve the content, is to be consistent and logical when configuring the server.  Being consistent when laying out the folders containing the sites, or how the configuration files are organized can make it much easier to manage your sites as they grow and mature.  Often it is more important to be consistent than it is to be “correct”, since this consistency will make it easier to make improvements later on.

Another good practice is not to make changes in production.  A good development life-cycle is crucial to avoiding nasty surprises when updating code.

LAMP Server environments are good at serving most types of content right “out of the box”.  Because of this, it is easy to assume the default settings are the best for your application.  It is important to take advantage of the versatility these programs offer and tune them to your content (or to tune your application to them).  This will increase performance and the efficiency of your application, and can even reduce costs as fewer servers are needed to serve a given number of visitors.  One tool that can help in this tuning process is a load test.  A load test that replicates your typical or expected traffic can help show you what bottle necks exist so that they can be addressed.  Perhaps some settings in MySQL or Apache could be changed to alleviate them, increasing the number of visitors you can handle.  As your site evolves and changes so do its bottle necks and performance profile, so this tuning process should be done periodically for best results.

Why Shouldn't I Use LAMP?

There is a reason there are multiple substitutions for the “P”, the choice of language used is closely tied to the development of your application and is the most common deviation.  Choosing a language for your application is outside the scope of this article but there are many reasons why one language would be chosen over another, such as performance or familiarity.  LAMP is a group of unrelated software programs, so switching out one piece or another is easy to do since there are no interconnections, it just doesn't have quite as catchy an acronym (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Tomcat -- LAMT?).

Another reason to deviate is specialized performance.  If you only need a small subset of features, but need to squeeze maximum performance from it then you may need something more specialized (using NGINX for example).  Even then, the versatility of LAMP means that you maybe be able to configure it to meet those needs.

Summary

LAMP Server environments are very popular due to its versatility and reliability.  It works well for the smallest website on up to some of the largest enterprise or E-Commerce website, from low traffic to high volume.  And does this all while being cost effective, and tunable to the work at hand.

Millions of websites around the world use LAMP, do you? If not, will you turn on the LAMP?

If you like our open source articles- click here to check out this one on Nginx and Apache!

 


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