Review: WAMP stacks for Web developers

All-in-one Apache-MySQL-PHP server packages for Windows vary widely in features, flexibility, and ease

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BitNami WAMPStack 5.3.10
BitNami publishes a bevy of prepackaged environments for popular Web applications. Its approach stands in stark contrast to that of AMPPS. With AMPPS, you set up a single framework that allowed you to add or remove Web apps as needed. But with BitNami, each Web app is a stand-alone product packaged with a separate copy of the stack. BitNami is best for people who know exactly which app they want to work with and no other, free of distractions or superfluities.

WAMPStack, for instance, is a BitNami stack that contains nothing but the stack itself: Apache, PHP, MySQL, and that's it. PostgreSQL (5.3.10-2) is available as an add-on, but if you want to include anything else, you have to do it manually. Note that a variant, WAPPStack, uses PostgreSQL as the default database; if you'd rather use PostgreSQL, you can opt for that instead as everything else is identical.

Actually, the *AMP stack installed with WAMPStack isn't absolutely minimal. At install time, you're given the option of setting up several other components: Zend Framework, Symfony, CodeIgniter, and CakePHP. You also choose which phpMyAdmin password to use during setup. Note that phpMyAdmin is by default locked down from the outside. You can access it only from the local machine and not a remote host.

The WAMPStack management tool is minimal, to put it kindly. It consists of little more than an interface from which you can stop and restart the MySQL and Apache servers. There are no management tools, no links to configuration files or log files, no port-check functions. Perhaps the assumption is that BitNami's users are by default expert enough that they won't need the hand-holding. Even so, it would still be nice to have quick access to the most commonly used stuff.

As an aside, many stacks in the BitNami library are also available as virtual machines. WAMPStack itself isn't, in big part because all of its components are standard-issue items in any vanilla Linux distribution. But other stacks that include preloaded apps, like BitNami's WordPress stack, come as VMware images. Others are also available as Amazon AWS machine images, if you want to jump right to hosting your stack in the cloud -- which is a big part of what BitNami offers as one of its for-pay services.

Recommended for: Those who want to develop with a specific application platform.

Minimal is the best word for BitNami's control panel for the WAMPStack.
"Minimal" is the best word for BitNami's control panel for the WAMPStack.
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