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Wednesday, 13 May 2015 22:33

A Short Unofficial History of the LAMP Stack Featured

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Desk Lamp Bokeh Desk Lamp Bokeh photo by Steve Tsiopanos

As an acronym, the term “LAMP” stack exists because it is convenient and also because it runs almost all the websites on the Internet (roughly, but who's counting anymore...). Generally, it refers to a Linux server* running a webserver with an embedded database server and PHP code interpreter.


L Linux Operating System
A Apache Web Server
M MySQL Database
P PHP Code Interpreter

You may have also heard of…

W Windows Operating System
A Apache Web Server
M MySQL Database
P PHP Code Interpreter

(Can also be WIMP with IIS as the webserver instead of Apache)


M Mac Apple OSX Operating System
A Apache Web Server
M MySQL Database
P PHP Code Interpreter


This collection of “stacks” is ubiquitous because so many of the Internet’s websites run on PHP and MySQL. Even before “Web2.0”, a movement which started in the late 90’s / early 2000’s with the advent of freely available MySQL, Apache was the de facto web server standard. Before PHP, there was just HTML. The development of PHP (recursive acronym standing for “PHP Hypertext Preprocessor”) allowed dynamic generation of page content, “templatization” and the development of interactive portals (like forums, content management systems, etc.).  Once MySQL hit the scene and PHP was updated to include extension for querying the database, web hosts all over the world began standardizing what we now call the LAMP stack.

This isn’t to say that the technology for dynamically coded front-ends running on database driven back-ends did not exist in other ecosystems. What is key here is the term “Open Source” combined with worldwide ubiquity. This allowed for developers and web hosts to build websites and hosting infrastructure free from draconian licensing standards which could have held back the advancement of “Web 2.0” (dynamic, database driven, AJAX-front-end websites).

After the dot-com bubble burst around 2000, the LAMP ecosystem solidified, becoming more ubiquitous and MUCH more robust. The tandem improvement of PHP and MySQL, along with improvements in the HTML4 standard and eventual consistency in CSS and Javascript standards sparked the evolution of a new breed of interactive websites which blurred the lines between web page and native application.

It should be noted that Microsoft was responsible for slowing progress on the web by keeping it’s finger on the second-hand for nearly 10 years as IE6 through IE8 fostered non-compliant web standards through vendor lock-in while ignoring security and performance issues.

Mozilla Firefox and Chrome (along with lesser known players like Opera, Konquerer, etc.) brought standards-based consistency to the playing field, creating a fertile environment for Open Source projects to build commerce-ready, enterprise grade and highly secure** Web Applications.

*Requires another story about RSA, SSL and open encryption standards.
**Today, many PHP projects can also run on Windows servers via IIS and MSSQL database.


Read 7977 times Last modified on Friday, 15 May 2015 16:38
Steve Tsiopanos

Family-smitten IT entrepreneur who enjoys running, biking, gadgets, piano & guitar, drawing and coding. Founded Annatech in 2006 and serves as Sr. Manager of Enterprise Solutions at 14 West.

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