LAMP – Would the Last One Out of the Newsroom Please Turn it Off?

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Ok, I couldn’t resist that little  joke in the title.  LAMP actually has nothing to do with lighting or the newsroom–it’s an acronym:


I just wanted to get that over with in case you are so turned off by anything “tech” that you’d leave immediately after reading what LAMP is.  I’d hate to waste anyone’s time sticking around and reading half an article only to run in terror.

Still with me?  Good!  This actually won’t be too bad.  We’re not going to get into these too deep.  Frankly, we don’t have to.  While it’s helpful to know what this stuff is, it isn’t at all necessary for you to become a successful blogger.  That’s because all of these things take care of themselves or are automatically handled by other people for the most part.

Linux is an operating system. If you are used to using Windows on your PC or Mac OS on your Mac, you know what an operating system is. Linux is just another operating system. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s a very stable (doesn’t crash) and free operating system. This makes it popular to use on web servers, which is the house your web site lives in. It’s one reason hosting is so cheap and reliable. You will never have to do a thing with linux yourself–I’m 99.9% sure of that. If you are going with a standard web host, you won’t even be able to get to the linux operating system. But it makes you sound cool to say that your site runs on linux, no?

Apache is one of the most popular web servers out there. Why? Because, like linux, it is free and reliable. Yet another reason hosting accounts are generally cheap. The web server is what handles the requests from users and “serves” the information they request in the nice, pretty format you see on your browser. Again, chances are you will never have to touch your Apache server, and probably couldn’t if you tried.

MySQL is a hugely popular database server. Why is it so popular? I bet you can guess by now–it’s reliable and free! The database server is where your actual content is stored. Every time a page is served by your web server, the “meat” comes from the database. Separating the pretty parts held on the web server from the meaty parts contained in the database makes it super easy for you to change to a completely different set of pretty parts (called “themes” in WordPress and many other software packages) without having to do anything with the content in the database. Pretty smart, huh? You’ll probably never touch your database directly either, however you will have that ability. Don’t worry though…chances are if you are going into your database you have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing. Just getting far enough to screw something up takes a little bit of know how.

PHP is a programming language that’s popular on the web. Yep–free and powerful. PHP is where all of the decision making happens. It is also used to grab data out of the database and fill in the blanks left by the theme (think “pretty parts”). Of all the pieces of LAMP, PHP is the one you’ll most likely come into contact with. But again, don’t worry. Chance are you’ll be working around PHP most of the time, not in it.

We’ll constantly be adding articles about each of these components as the need arises, but for now you have a brief overview of what each of these pieces does and why they are important to your site.

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