What is LAMP? LAMP stack basics to get you up and running fast

The LAMP stack has nothing to do with lighting, but it’s still a pretty bright idea (sorry, couldn’t resist!) It underpins many of the world’s most widespread open source web apps, like WordPress and Drupal, but its history goes back further than just being the bedrock of those currently popular platforms though. It’s one of the web’s original open source software stacks, and many developers still turn to it today when they are working on new custom web apps. As a developer you’ll find yourself running into it a lot too because it’s everywhere, and you’ll appreciate the fact that its uncomplicated and robust.

What is LAMP?

Glad you asked. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, and each one of them adds something unique to the development of high-performance web applications.

  • Linux: the LAMP Stack’s operating system. Linux started life in 1991. It’s an open source operating system and its free. It’s endured partly because it’s flexible and other operating systems are harder to configure. It’s used around the world and has proved itself in lots of different industries. So, it has a loyal fan base willing to shout its praises and help new users get up to speed.
  • Apache: the LAMP Stack’s web server. Apache HTTP Server is a free web server software package made available under an open source license. It used to be known as Apache Web Server when it was created in 1995. It offers a secure and extendable Web server that’s in sync with current HTTP standards.
  • MySQL: the LAMP Stack’s dbms. MySQL is a relational database management system used to store application data. It’s open source, and it lets you keep all your data in a format that can easily be queried with the SQL language. SQL works great with well-structured business domains and it’s a great workhorse that can handle even the largest and most complicated websites with ease.
  • PHP: the LAMP Stack’s programming language. PHP is an open source scripting language. It fits hand in glove with Apache to make building dynamic web pages a breeze. For instance, it steps into do what HTML can’t: enabling dynamic processes that involve pulling elements out of a database. PHP makes it easy to do tasks like this. You can add your code to the page at the part that you want to be dynamic, and hey presto! Job done. It’s an efficient and flexible language, and you can see the results of your new code as soon as you’ve written it. Just add it, hit refresh and it’s there. But if you’d prefer to use Perl or Python instead then you can, no problem. (Isn’t it handy that they both begin with the P?)

What is LAMP architecture like?

LAMP architecture is layered in the classic style, with Linux at the bottom, followed by Apache, MySQL, then PHP. Although PHP sits on the highest layer, it’s actually inside Apache.

How do the elements work together?

It all begins when someone’s browser sends a request for a web page to the Apache web server. If it’s for a PHP file, the request is forwarded to PHP, which loads the file and runs its code, then asks MySQL to fetch any information that the code may have referenced.

The code and the data it pulls up are used to create the output that lets browsers display webpages. The LAMP stack is good at delivering both static and dynamic pages, which is good because this is slightly more difficult to achieve because as the name suggests, dynamic content can change every time the page is loaded.

Once the file code has been run, PHP sends the data it produces back to the Apache web server, which then shunts it on to the browser, and this new data can also be stored in MySQL.

We haven’t mentioned Linux, but it’s the base on which all of this rests.


As the name suggests, the LAMP stack is based on Linux, but you could also use Windows if you needed to, which would give it the equally attractive title of a WAMP stack. You can swap in Mac OS to get a MAMP stack, or there’s even WIMP, which uses Windows and the Internet Information Services web server from Microsoft.

But the beauty of the LAMP stack is that all its components are free and open source, so you’re not tied in to use or pay for any of them. You just use what you need, when you need it.

The LAMP stack is flexible in other ways too. Apache has a modular design, so it’s possible to add on custom modules to extend functionality.

It’s also worth mentioning that the LAMP stack features enterprise-level encryption and security, so it’s “as safe as houses,” as they say.

Improving Efficiency – LAMP vs LEMP

The LAMP stack is a veteran that has been around for more than 10 years now, which means there are plenty of users who’ve been building modules for it for ages. The advantage of this is that whatever you might need to build for your own project, a lot of the work will have been done already. It’s great knowing that whatever you need, the work of others is waiting to help you cut down on your development time.

Another way to gain efficiency is by replacing Apache with NGINX, which is an is  an open-source high-performance web server is a web server which can also be used as a reverse proxy, mail proxy, load balancing solution and HTTP cache. NGINX focuses strongly on high concurrency, high performance and low memory use. Nowadays NGINX powers variety of high-load sites including Pinterest, Cloudflare, Airbnb, Netflix, Hulu, WordPress.com and GitHub.

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