X

Send us a Topic or Tip

Have a suggestion for the blog? Perhaps a topic you'd like us to write about? If so, we'd love to hear from you! Fancy yourself a writer and have a tech tip, handy computer trick, or "how to" to share? Let us know what you'd like to contribute!

Thanks for reaching out!

LAMP & WordPress on a Reused, Recycled Mac mini Server

Our trusty Mac mini Linux server
Our trusty Mac mini Linux server

Although it’s tempting to look at one of the new Apple Silicon Macs for various purposes, older Macs still have a lot of life left in them. In previous articles, I’ve set up a 2014 Mac mini as a Plex media server, then later installed the Linux operating system on the same Mac mini for the purpose of using it as a small business or home server. In this article, I’ll show you how to set up a commonly-used set of tools known as LAMP to start adding some utility to our server. The final step? We’ll install WordPress.


What is LAMP?

Let’s shine a light on LAMP! The acronym stands for Linux Apache MySQL PHP. Linux is the server operating system installed in the last article, Apache is a widely-used open-source HTTP (web) server application, MySQL is an open-source relational database system, and PHP is a general-purpose scripting language to tie all of these tools together.

LAMP is a software stack – a bundle of software that works as a foundation for other applications to run on. LAMP is used as the underpinning for the popular WordPress content management system used here at The Rocket Yard. PHPMyAdmin uses LAMP to create a powerful database front-end for MySQL. There are email servers available that use LAMP, such as SquirrelMail.


Private versus Public Servers

At this point in this Linux server series, I’m going to assume that we are setting up a private server. In other words, this server is only available to people on our local network. This isn’t particularly useful, since a “real” server for a business should be accessible to the public. But for purposes like setting up a test website or an in-house Wiki, a private server is fine.


Installing LAMP

To load the components of LAMP onto the Linux server, we need to open a terminal window. In Ubuntu Linux, that’s done with the shortcut CTRL-ALT-T. On a Mac keyboard, that will be CTRL-OPTION-T.

A Word of Caution

Before we get started, I want to emphasize that you’ll be typing a lot of commands. Always make sure that you double-check your typing before pressing Return. Making an error can result in a need to uninstall and reinstall the components!


Apache HTTP Server: The A in LAMP

At the terminal prompt, type the following:

sudo apt install apache2

then press Return

You’re asked to enter your administrator password. Do so, then press Return. You’ll also be asked if you wish to continue. Type “y” for Yes, then press Return.

To see if Apache is running, open a web browser in Ubuntu, then type

http://localhost/

in the address/search bar and press Return. You should see this default page appear:

The default page for Apache2 shows that the web server is running on your Linux server
The default page for Apache2 shows that the webserver is running on your Linux server

Install MySQL Server: The M in LAMP

The next component of LAMP to install is MySQL Server. At the terminal prompt, type the following:

sudo apt install mysql-server

and press Return. As with the installation of Apache, you’re asked for your admin password and if you want to continue the installation. Answer as before. A successful installation ends with text like this in terminal:

The end of a successful MySQL Server installation on the Linux Server
The end of a successful MySQL Server installation on the Linux Server

Install PHP: The P in LAMP

The final component of LAMP is PHP, a powerful scripting language. In the Ubuntu terminal type the following:

sudo apt install php-pear php-fpm php-dev php-zip php-curl php-xmlrpc php-gd php-mysql php-mbstring php-xml libapache2-mod-php

That’s a lot to type, so make sure you have done it correctly or just cut and paste the code above. Press Return at the end of the command. Oddly enough, terminal didn’t request the admin password when I did this, but did ask if I wanted to continue the installation. With a Y, the installation proceeded.

Testing PHP is simple. Just type this command at the terminal prompt:

php -r 'echo "nnYour PHP installation is working fine.nnn";'

Press Return, and if PHP is running properly, the response should be something like this:

A simple way of making sure PHP is running on your Linux server
A simple way of making sure PHP is running on your Linux server

Setting Up WordPress with LAMP

As an example of setting up a server application on our LAMP-equipped Linux server, I’ll show you how to install the very popular WordPress content management system. Not sure what a content management system is? It’s also known as blogging software, basically what allows bloggers to post text and images online.

WordPress is used on internal blogs and to run huge commercial websites, so it’s a great example of an application that can run on a Linux server. If it’s not still running, launch terminal on the server and type these commands at the prompt, pressing Return at the end of each:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install wordpress php

You’ll be asked to enter your administrator password after the first command, and asked if you wish to continue (answer “Y”) after the second command. At the completion of a rather long installation process, the terminal prompt reappears.

Configure Apache for WordPress

In this next section, we’ll create an Apache Webserver site for WordPress. To do that, we need to create a configuration file and store it in a specific spot. For this, we’ll use the text editor that ships with Ubuntu.

We haven’t launched the Text Editor (AKA gedit), so you may not know where it’s hiding. Click the Show Applications button (it looks like a square grid of nine little squares), and type Text Editor into the search field that appears at the top of the screen.

When Text Editor appears, click it to launch the application. I found it helpful to right-click the icon in the “dock” and select Add to Favorites so that the editor is always a click away.

Alias /blog /usr/share/wordpress
<Directory /usr/share/wordpress>
    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride Limit Options FileInfo
    DirectoryIndex index.php
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
</Directory>
<Directory /usr/share/wordpress/wp-content>
    Options FollowSymLinks
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
</Directory>

It’s easiest just to copy and paste this into the editor. Now to save the document, we need to make sure that it’s located in a specific directory. Click the button just to the right of the Save button and select Save As… from the menu. This brings up a list of the folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, etc…) for your account, but we need to save this file into an Apache2 folder.

Saving the Configuration File

We’ll start by just saving the file to our home directory. Click the Save button, type in the file name wordpress.conf, then press Return. We can verify that the file has been saved to our home directory by typing the command ls -l at the prompt in terminal. You’ll see something like this (your username will replace mine):

Listing the contents of the home directory shows the WordPress.conf file that was just created
Listing the contents of the home directory shows the WordPress.conf file that was just created

Moving the Configuration File

That file isn’t in the correct location. It needs to be in directory path /etc/apache2/sites-available. The terminal window is still open, so type the following command at the prompt and press Return:

sudo mv wordpress.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available

Enter your administrative password, press Return, and the file is moved to the proper directory. To prove to yourself that the file is in the proper place, enter the following command to change directories:

cd /etc/apache2/sites-available

then list the files in the directory:

ls -l

You’ll see the file listed along with two other configuration files. Head back to your home directory by typing cd at the terminal prompt and pressing Return.

Enable the WordPress Site

Now we need to enter four more quick terminal commands to enable the site:

sudo a2ensite wordpress

sudo a2enmod rewrite

sudo service apache2 reload

systemctl restart apache2

As usual, remember to press Return after each command and enter your administrator password as required.


Configure the Database

One of the features that makes WordPress so powerful is that it stores content, user information, and media in a MySQL database. It then uses PHP scripts to create a web page on the fly. For example, when you open The Rocket Yard in your browser, you’re actually setting off a chain of events that pulls information from a MySQL database, then processes it in PHP to send code to your browser.

Remember using the text editor before to create a file? That’s what we need to do here. Launch the text editor and enter the following lines (replace yourpasswordhere with a password you wish to have WordPress use with MySQL):

<?php
define('DB_NAME', 'wordpress');
define('DB_USER', 'wordpress');
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'yourpasswordhere');
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');
define('WP_CONTENT_DIR', '/usr/share/wordpress/wp-content');
?>

Save this document as config-localhost.php. Next, move it from your home directory to the /etc/wordpress directory.

sudo mv config-localhost.php /etc/wordpress

Next, we need to create another file. Name this one wordpress.sql, containing the following lines (replace yourpasswordhere with the password you entered in the config-localhost.php file):

CREATE DATABASE wordpress;
CREATE USER 'wordpress'@'localhost'
IDENTIFIED BY 'yourpasswordhere';
GRANT SELECT,INSERT,UPDATE,DELETE,CREATE,DROP,ALTER
ON wordpress.*
TO wordpress@localhost;
FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

We’ll now execute this file with the following command in the terminal:

cat wordpress.sql | sudo mysql --defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf

At this point, you can start the actual WordPress installation! To see the installer, we’ll type

http://localhost/blog/wp-admin/install.php into our browser and press Return. The following screen appears:

The WordPress installation dialog
The WordPress installation dialog

For my example, I’ll make the Site Title Starship, the Username Captain, use a password of 2020-aWFuL-YeaR, and enter my email address into the email field. With this information entered, I click Install WordPress. After about 30 seconds, WordPress responds with:

The installation of WordPress has succeeded
The installation of WordPress has succeeded

Now we can log into our WordPress blog and begin setting up pages and posts from the dashboard:

The WordPress Dashboard, where all the magic begins.
The WordPress Dashboard, where all the magic begins.

Note that this may not seem very useful since the only place the WordPress installation can be viewed is on the actual server! However, website designers often create a local instance of WordPress exactly like this to create a site, then export the necessary configuration files to a “real” server.


Server IP Address on our Linux Server

In order to start accessing our Linux server from other machines — like our Macs in the small office — we’ll first need to know the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the server. At the terminal prompt, enter the command

ifconfig -a

Hidden in this alphabet soup is the information for all of the various network adapters — Ethernet, Loopback, and Wireless. Our test server uses Wi-Fi for connectivity, so that’s where we see the IP address information (highlighted in red):

The IP address of our Linux server is 192.168.0.183
The IP address of our Linux server is 192.168.0.183

To test that it’s accessible on our local network, we can ping the server from a Mac. Launch Terminal on the Mac, then enter the command

ping -c 10 192.168.0.183

This sends 10 packets from the Mac to the server, which then responds (or doesn’t):

The results of pinging our server
The results of pinging our server

We know our server IP address, and we know that we can reach it from a Mac. In our next post in this series, we’ll start using the server from other computers in our small office.


Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve is the publisher of Apple World Today, a website providing news, reviews and how-tos for the world of Apple, as well as an author on The Rocket Yard. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist.
Be Sociable, Share This Post!

Leave a Reply

Comment

Name

2 Comments