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What is LAMP?

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 8/27/2009

Confused about the term LAMP you've seen in the web development forums? Read this article for an overview of the LAMP web programming platform and find out its key web software components.

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    The LAMP Web Platform

    Yes, you know about the lamp that usually requires some sort of light bulb. But, what does the term LAMP have to do with website development? You may have seen the acronym used in chats about web scripting languages or dynamic programming. Read on for a brief explanation of this important web programming tool.

    Coined by Michael Kunze in 1998, the term LAMP refers to a full web development platform that includes a four-part bundle of specific software solutions. The highly reliable platform is widely used to produce feature-rich website applications that generate both static and dynamic content.

    The appeal of the LAMP web programming option is that the components are primarily free and available as downloadable open source software and coding solutions. Kunze saw the potential of using this bundle of various solutions in tandem, allowing individuals, companies and web programmers to create more inexpensive websites that could customize information for site visitors. With the term LAMP, he was the first to offer a possible marketing phrase for how the bundle could be presented to a wider audience.

    The basic components of the LAMP web platform include an operating system, web server, database management tool and scripting languages.

    Linux is the LAMP operating system. It is a unix-like system kernel used to provide communication between the system hardware and software. Linux is available as open source and may be modified under the GNU GPL license.

    Apache is the LAMP web server application. It is a very reliable open source server option that has become prevalent across the web. In fact, it now serves over 46% of all websites on the internet.

    MySQL is the database management solution included in the LAMP web platform model. It is also available for use and modification under the GNU GPL license and provides multiple user access and management across multiple databases. It is also widely used with over 6 million installations and is the platform of choice for Google and Facebook.

    The scripting component of LAMP varies depending on different installations. Most commonly, PHP is used in conjunction with the other components. However, Perl or Python are also viable options. These general scripting languages can be modified in open source and embedded with standard HTML code to execute dynamic or "on-the-fly" website content based on specific actions taken by the user.

    With these components, LAMP offers a full service web development platform through open source that allows website programmers and designers to create sites rich in customized content.