We covered two of the requirements of web server software in the last chapter – Linux and Apache. Those two programs are all that is needed to display a web page on the Internet. If all you do is write your own web pages, that’s all you need to run a web server.
WordPress is a program that requires automation to run. You need additional software to make it work. Such automation allows a great deal of power and flexibility for web pages, and there are many web sites that make use of automation. Search engines, shopping carts, forums, and many more applications you see on the Internet are run using automation.
Setting up a web server for automation is so common that most web servers are configured for it. Setting up such a system is called LAMP. Adding LAMP to a server gives it the power it needs to run WordPress and other powerful programs.
LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. We covered Linux and Apache in the last chapter. MySQL and PHP are two powerful software programs that also are free and popular.
MySQL is a database. This allows your web server to store data in a powerful and fast way. There are many things that can be stored in a MySQL database. Each blog post in WordPress is stored there, as is each comment. User names and passwords are stored there, in addition to all of the other pieces of information that WordPress needs to remember to do its job. A shopping cart program uses MySQL to remember customer names and addresses, credit card info, and previous orders.
When you hear on the news that a popular web site has been hacked, and passwords and credit cards have been accessed, it’s usually because hackers got into the company’s database that is on their web server. Securing MySQL is an important part of Internet security.
The final piece of LAMP is PHP. This is a programming language that creates the software that runs on the Internet. WordPress is written in PHP. You have to have PHP installed on your web server before installing WordPress, or it cannot operate.
These four software packages – Linux (the operating system), Apache (the web connection software), MySQL (the database software) and PHP (the programming language) is the foundation of modern web development. There are other software packages that are sometimes used to replace these packages. Windows is often used instead of Linux, and Ruby on Rails is often used instead of PHP. But the LAMP software is the most popular, due to its affordability, power and flexibility.