Building a LAMP Server

by Bruce Timberlake

Please note - these directions were originally written in 2002, and are not really relevant anymore. I am leaving this content up here for historical purposes for now, but please don't use these directions at all if you are setting up a LAMP server.


This document will walk you through the installation of what is known as a "LAMP" system: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. Depending on who you talk to, the P also stands for Perl or Python, but in general, it is assumed to be PHP. I run CentOS on my servers; these directions were written for CentOS/Red Hat/Fedora. I have had requests for SuSE (another RPM-based distribution) as well as Debian-based systems, so I will work on variants of these directions for those distributions in the future . The main difference between the distributions is in the paths to the startup scripts. Red Hat systems used /etc/rc.d/init.d and SuSE uses /etc/init.d.

If you need an SSL-enabled server, I have a LAMP with SSL howto as well.

I designed this document so you can just copy/paste each line or block of commands into your shell session and it will "just work" for you. This avoids tedious typing, and the inevitable typos or missed steps that result. These commands work properly via copy/paste. If you are having problems and you are not using copy/paste, please re-check your typing before sending me an email saying "It doesn't work."

Text in a "command" box like this one is a literal Linux commandline, and should be typed or pasted exactly as written.

One note: many many people have followed these directions as written, and have not had any problems.
If you are having a problem, chances are it's something you are doing (or not doing), something different
about your computer, etc.

It is probably NOT this procedure. :)

Initial Steps

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT A SOURCE-BASED INSTALLATION LIKE THIS ONE IS NOT NEEDED FOR A BASIC LAMP SERVER! You should only be doing a source-based installation if you need to alter settings in one or more components of the LAMP stack (e.g., you need a feature in PHP that isn't in the default RPM). If you are just getting started with LAMP, use the binaries provided by your distribution - it is much simpler, and a lot easier to upgrade later.

Most out-of-the-box Red Hat Linux installations will have one or more of the LAMP components installed via RPM files. I personally believe in installing things like this from source, so I get the most control over what's compiled in, what's left out, etc. But source code installs can wreak havoc if overlaid on top of RPM installs, as the two most likely won't share the same directories, etc.

If you have not yet installed your Linux OS, or just for future reference, do not choose to install Apache, PHP, or MySQL during the system installation. Then you can immediately proceed with the source-based install listed here.

Note: to install applications from source code, you will need a C++ compiler (gcc++) installed. This is generally taken care of, but I've had enough queries about it that I've added this note to avoid getting more! You can use your distribution's install CDs to get the proper version of the compiler. Or, if you are using an RPM based distro, you can use a site like http://www.rpmfind.net/ to locate the correct RPM version for your system. (You will obviously not be able to use/rebuild a source RPM to get the compiler installed, as you need the compiler to build the final binary RPM!) On a Fedora system, you can do this command:

su - root
yum install gcc gcc-c++

Log in as root

Because we will be installing software to directories that "regular" users don't have write access to, and also possibly uninstalling RPM versions of some applications, we'll log in as root. The only steps that need root access are the actual installation steps, but by doing the configure and make steps as root, the source code will also be inaccessible to "regular" users.

If you do not have direct access (via keyboard) to the server, PLEASE use Secure Shell (SSH) to access the server and not telnet!! Whenever you use telnet (or plain FTP for that matter), you are transmitting your username, password, and all session information in "plain text". This means that anyone who can access a machine someplace between your PC and your server can snoop your session and get your info. Use encryption wherever possible!

su - root

Remove RPM Versions of the Applications

Before we start with our source code install, we need to remove all the existing RPM files for these products. To find out what RPMs are already installed, use the RPM query command:

rpm -qa

in conjunction with grep to filter your results:

rpm -qa | grep -i apache
rpm -qa | grep -i httpd
rpm -qa | grep -i php
rpm -qa | grep -i mysql

The 'httpd' search is in case you have Apache2 installed via RPM.

To remove the RPMs generated by these commands, do

rpm -e filename

for each RPM you found in the query. If you have any content in your MySQL database already, the RPM removal step should not delete the database files. When you reinstall MySQL, you should be able to move all those files to your new MySQL data directory and have access to them all again.

Get the Source Code for all Applications

We want to put all our source code someplace central, so it's not getting mixed up in someone's home directory, etc.

cd /usr/local/src

One way application source code is distributed is in what are known as "tarballs." The tar command is usually associated with making tape backups - tar stands for Tape ARchive. It's also a handy way to pack up multiple files for easy distribution. Use the man tar command to learn more about how to use this very flexible tool.

At the time of updating this, the current versions of all the components we'll use are:

MySQL -
Apache -
PHP -

Please note: these are the only versions of these that I have set up myself, and verified these steps against. If you use another version of any component, especially a newer version, this HOWTO may not be accurate, and I won't be able to provide free support under those circumstances. Paid support and assistance is always available however.

wget http://www.php.net/distributions/php-.tar.gz
wget http://apache.oregonstate.edu/httpd/apache_.tar.gz

There may be an Apache mirror closer to you - check their mirror page for other sources. Then insert the URL you get in place of the above for the wget command.

For MySQL, go to http://www.mysql.com/ and choose an appropriate mirror to get the newest MySQL version (v).

Unpack the Source Code

tar zxf php-.tar.gz
tar zxf apache_.tar.gz
tar zxf mysql-.tar.gz

This should leave you with the following directories:

/usr/local/src/php-
/usr/local/src/apache_
/usr/local/src/mysql-

Build and Install Apache (with DSO support)

The advantage to building Apache with support for dynamically loaded modules is that in the future, you can add functionality to your webserver by just compiling and installing modules, and restarting the webserver. If the features were compiled into Apache, you would need to rebuild Apache from scratch every time you wanted to add or update a module (like PHP). Your Apache binary is also smaller, which means more efficient memory usage.

The downside to dynamic modules is a slight performance hit compared to having the modules compiled in.

cd /usr/local/src/apache_

make clean

./configure \
--prefix=/usr/local/apache \
--enable-shared=max \
--enable-module=rewrite \
--enable-module=so

make && make install

Start Apache

We want to set Apache up with a normal start/stop script in /etc/rc.d/init.d so it can be auto-started and controlled like other system daemons. Set up a symbolic link for the apachectl utility (installed automatically as part of Apache):

ln -s /usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl /etc/rc.d/init.d/apache

Then set up auto-start for runlevel 3 (where the server will go by default):

ln -s /etc/rc.d/init.d/apache /etc/rc.d/rc3.d/S90apache

Then start the daemon:

/etc/rc.d/init.d/apache start

You can check that it's running properly by doing:

ps -ef

and look for the httpd processes.