Have you ever wanted to run your own web server in your home? Maybe you need a place to play around or test websites before you take them live. Whatever the reason, a LAMP server is the easiest way to do it. This server can easily be set up in your own home on one of your spare computers or even using virtualization software such as VirtualBox.
Today, for the purposes of our guide, we will be using an installation of Ubuntu running in VirtualBox, but you can use whatever Linux distro you prefer for your server. That’s the great thing about Linux when running it on a laptop, almost any distro can be configured to do just what you want it to do.
What Is a LAMP Server?
Before we dive into the guide, I want to make sure everyone understands exactly what a LAMP server is. Essentially, LAMP stands for all the essential components you will need to setup a modern, functioning webserver on your computer. Let’s take it one letter at a time:
- L – Linux, the operating system that will power your web server. In this guide, we will be using Ubuntu, but any Linux distro can become a LAMP server.
- A – Apache is the web server software we will be using. It’s open source and one of the most popular web servers in the world today.
- M – MySQL is your open source database solution that you can use to store much of your website’s data. Other web software such as WordPress or Joomla make use of MySQL for much of their functionality.
- P – PHP is your server side scripting language that you use. It interacts with your MySQL databases and can even help you create custom scripts to improve the functionality of the websites you create.
Once you have all this installed and setup on your Linux machine, you will have a fully functioning web server that you could connect to your home to run your own web server right from your house. I’m not joking here. Here’s a fun fact for you, much of the shared hosting and even some of the more advanced hosting packages are powered by LAMP servers from providers such as HostGator, GoDaddy, and many more. Why pay them when you can do it yourself, providing you have the bandwidth and speeds to handle a website.
Why Run a LAMP Server?
Many of you may be wondering why you would bother setting up a LAMP server in the first place. There are many great reasons.
- It’s a great learning tool. Setting up this type of server will go a long way toward helping you learn how the web works and how Linux works. If you want to learn more about Linux, this is the way to do it.
- A LAMP server will allow you to setup and run your own web server in your home, providing you have the Internet bandwidth to handle it. While you will need more than just the server, such as a static IP, with just a little work you can be on your way to hosting your very own customized web server right from the comfort of your own home.
- A LAMP server is also a great testing environment for your websites. Instead of making all your changes on your live site, you can make them locally on your LAMP server knowing that your configuration is pretty darn close to the setup provided by your web host. When you are done, you simply export your files and upload them to your live server and you are ready to go.
- A LAMP server is a great environment for you to not only test your sites, but to play around with new web technology and software. You can install this new software on your local LAMP server without having to worry if it will mess up your live installs on your web host.
- It’s fun! At the end of the day, if you like technology, setting up and running your own LAMP server is just plain fun to do. Personally, I love playing around in Linux, so setting up and running a LAMP server is a great thing to do on the Linux platform.
As you can see, there are many great reasons to run a LAMP server in Linux. So the question really becomes, why haven’t you set one up? What exactly are you waiting for?
Setup a LAMP Server
Are you ready to get started? Great! I will break this guide down by letter so you can see how to install each portion of the LAMP server.
1. Installing Linux
Now I’m not going to spend too much time talking about this one today. The fact is how you setup your copy of Linux depends on so many factors, it’s hard to walk you through what you need to do.
For example, if you are running Linux on a dedicated machine, you may need to configure a USB stick or a DVD with the install media. However, if you are virtualizing your LAMP server, then you may only need an ISO and a copy of your favorite virtualization software. If you need to reference something about installing Linux, try this post I did last year. It should be exactly what you need to install Linux in a virtualized environment and it will even provide enough information for those of you that want to install it on a dedicated machine.
Essentially, you will need the install media for your favorite distribution and a machine to run it on. From there, it will all depend on your specific setup. Once loaded, you may even have to search for a few specialized drivers to get all your hardware working properly.
If you have any questions about this setup, please feel free to comment below and I will answer them as best as I can.
2. Setup Apache
Setting up Apache is fairly straight forward and can be accomplished with only a couple of commands in the terminal.
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install apache2
Once the install is finished, it’s time to check to make sure everything installed properly. First restart the service:
sudo service apache2 restart
Next, open a browser and navigate to 127.0.0.1 if you are checking on your Ubuntu installation or type the IP address of your Ubuntu virtual machine into the browser on another machine. If it works, you should see this:
3. Install MySQL
Now it’s time to get your database software up and running. MySQL is the open source database management solution used in most LAMP servers today. Installation is pretty easy and only takes a few minutes.
sudo apt-get install mysql-server
Now, check to see if MySQL is installed properly.
If you setup a password on your installation, use the following command:
mysql –uroot -p
If everything went well, you should see this:
4. Install PHP
PHP is the open source web server scripting language used in LAMP servers. These scripts will help you interact with your MySQL databases along with allowing you the ability to create a wide range of scripts to customize your server. We’ve already installed the libraries for PHP and MySQL, but we will need the rest of the libraries to get everything fully up and running.
sudo apt-get install -y php7.0 libapache2-mod-php7.0
Now you may want a nice web based interface for PHP and MySQL. In order to do that, you will need to install PHPMyAdmin.
sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin
Follow the prompts during installation and enter your MySQL password if you created one. This will create a database and perform all the configuration needed for it to interact with PHP and MySQL on your Ubuntu virtual machine.
6. Restart Services
Now that you have made all the necessary changes, all you have to do is restart apache and you are ready to go. Now, you can just restart your Ubuntu virtual machine. But all you really have to do is type the following in terminal:
sudo service apache2 restart
If everything works, you should be able to access phpMyAdmin from your web browser.
That’s all there is to it. If you have never done this before, please take your time and follow each step carefully. All in all, you will probably be able to knock out the entire thing including setting up Ubuntu on your machine or in a virtual machine in less than an hour, depending on the speed of your computer.
There are many great reasons to do this, but if you have wanted to play around with web design, this is the best way to do it. In just a few minutes you will have your very own functioning server that you could put online or use for testing.
For those of you out there that have done this before, do you like the functionality of a LAMP server? What do you think the drawbacks are with this type of setup. Tell me your opinions about this or if you have any suggestions about this guide please let me know. I would love to hear from you.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.