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Develop Web Applications with Linux

Most web hosting uses the LAMP platform:

  • Linux
  • Apache
  • MySQL
  • PHP

As opposed to WAMP (Windows Apache MySQL and PHP)

This is because all of the above are open source, meaning they are completely free to use. This saves money for the host (no licensing costs), which are passed on to customers.

Also, PHP is very easy to integrate with Apache.

As PHP is an open source language (the interpreter required to run PHP is itself open source), it has encouraged open source development using the language. Put simply, open source developers want their applications to be available to everyone, without constraint. If they write code using proprietary languages, such as .NET, users cannot use their software without buying a license from Microsoft.

This goes against the ethos of open source development, good news for PHP as there are many freely available web applications written in with PHP, ensuring its continued popularity,

So there are some reasons why you should learn PHP, but what about Linux? In a nutshell it is easier to develop on the same operating system that you intend to deploy onto. So, if your web server / web host use Linux, then it makes sense for you to do so also:

  • Permissions on files and folders are controlled differently in Windows and Linux
  • Carriage return characters (inserted when you hit the enter key) are different in Windows and Linux, these can make a mess if you open a file from one operating system on another.
  • Apache and PHP are much easier to install on Linux than on Windows
  • There are many more free development tools available for Linux than there are for Windows including:
    • HTML editors / builder’s
    • Compilers / Programming tools
    • Graphics editors
    • FTP clients (File Transfer programs for uploading your files to your host)

In fact almost everything is available for free on Linux.

Using Linux can be daunting, there are many different versions, some of which are complex to install. However, Ubuntu is a Linux distribution written with usability in mind and is very simple to install and use. Ubuntu is viewed as a ‘toy’ users of more flexible and complex distributions, but I never pay attention to comments like that. I want an operating system that I can install and start working with, not one that requires me to dedicate a disproportionate amount of time to set up.

Ubuntu makes installation of software very easy, using APT (Advanced Packaging Tool) to install programs over the Internet. There is a tool within Ubuntu that makes browsing and installing software very easy, including Apache, PHP and MySQL. Once you select and install the components you require, you simply click install and be amazed!

If you install Apache PHP and MySQL in this way you should be find they are already integrated and ready to go. This is not the case when using Windows, where you have to edit configuration files to get PHP running. Then if you want to use add ons such as GD library (for manipulating images) there is even more config work to do. No so with Ubuntu.

Also, as with Windows, Ubuntu updates itself via the Internet, unlike Windows, it will also update your software!

I installed Ubuntu and set up all my software in the same time it took me to install Apache PHP and GD Library on Windows, it works more reliably and work I do on my laptop does not require so much alteration once uploaded to the server.

If you are interested in developing web applications for Linux using PHP or Java then you really should give Ubuntu (or another distribution of your choice) a go.

The other nice thing about Ubuntu and some other distributions is that you can run the operating system from your CD Rom, see if you like it, if not take the CD out and reboot your untouched PC. Just be careful not to click the install button on the desktop unless you know what you are doing!

Also, if you are going to dual boot your PC (Running both Windows and Linux on one PC) be sure to back up all your work. Problems often arise when doing this resulting in the loss of your Windows partition, not nice if you haven’t backed up!

To find out more about installing Apache and PHP on Ubuntu have a read of this.

If you want to know how an open source evangelist (lunatic :-) ) thinks have a look at ossgeeks, this will give you an appreciation of why open source developers choose open source platforms like LAMP!

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    Comment by David Hopkins

    This post would not go down well with my first, only and last employer, a Microsoft parter who preaced from the heart the benefits of Microsoft. After I said I was leaving he told me that PHP, Apache and the likes would very quickly be crushed out of the market and that I should focus on learning ASP and other MS technologies. This was just under a year and a half ago and in that time PHP has well and truly crunched ASP out of the market :)

    (Comments wont nest below this level)
    Comment by SiteLogic

    C# is a very good language, Visual Studio is probably the best IDE out there, sharepoint does some smart things with document workflow…

    so there are some positives with MS…

    Negatives are that sharepoint does not like standards and it does not like ‘other’ browsers.

    MS will dominate intranets / portals, but not the internet…


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