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Occasionally, you are going to come across a term or two that everyone just seems to automatically assume you know. When you're learning more about content management systems, you're bound to hear the term LAMP, especially when dealing with open-source CMSs, and you're usually never really given a definition for what exactly a LAMP CMS is. LAMP is actually an acronym that represents a stack of open-source software that when used in conjunction with one another create application servers. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, although the scripting languages Pearl and Python often replace PHP in a LAMP stack.
So let's take a look at what each of these do within the stack and then discuss how this relates to content management systems. Linux is an open-source operating system that is commonly used to run servers. Due to the fact that it's free, open source, and really powerful, hosting companies frequently use it as their platform of choice. Linux isn't the only offering system used in conjunction with Apache, MySQL, and PHP however. When used with the Mac OS, the stack is referred to as MAMP. And when used with Windows, the stack is referred to as WAMP-- logically enough, of course.
Now the Apache HTTP server makes up the next part of the LAMP stack and is a free, open-source web server that has revolutionized the web since its release in 1995. It is by far the most popular web server in use today, and it's used to serve over 60 % of all web sites. MySQL, the next part of the LAMP stack, is often referred to as a type of database. That's not technically correct as MySQL is actually a relational database management system, and as the name implies, helps to create and manage relational databases as part of the LAMP stack.
Now whether the P in LAMP stands for PHP, Pearl, or Python, it represents a server-side scripting language that can be used to create web applications or dynamic web sites. Many open-source CMSs, including Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress, were built in PHP and are designed to work using the LAMP stack. For the most part, you won't need to understand exactly what the LAMP stack is in order to take advantage of it. Most of time, it's totally transparent to the end user. However, if you'll be configuring or setting up your own installations, it's helpful to understand how all the components fit together.
In many cases, you can download and install bundled servers for the LAMP, MAMP, and WAMP stacks based on the operating system that you're using. For more information on LAMP, check out www.lamphowto.com. If you're interested in installing the stack on other operating systems, check out wampserver.com and mamp.info for Windows and Mac respectively.
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