Bitnami LAMP stack and WordPress module – A portable Content Management System

This article is primarily for Linux users. If you are a Windows user, worry not. Keep reading and thou shalt not be disappointed. 🙂

I had written an article, sometime back, on how to install WordPress on Arch Linux. My primary aim was (still is) to use WordPress as a personal desktop Content Management System (CMS). On Linux, WordPress needs the LAMP stack to work.

LAMP_software_bundle.svg

LAMP stack diagram by Shmuel Csaba Otto Traian [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The installation of LAMP stack + WordPress on Arch was painful and one needed to take care of a lot of things. There were many config files to tweak. A mistake here or there could open up the machine for cyber attacks. Maintaining such a system is a very taxing business. Also, such a system is completely bound to a specific machine. If you want to work on your workstation, you need the CMS installed on it. You cannot take your CMS with you unless you have it installed on your laptop. There is no concept of portability in it.

In an ideal world, the LAMP stack and WordPress would be installed on a USB hard drive that can be plugged in on any machine and accessed seamlessly. Availability is the key in today’s world and portability is a highly desired quality.

Why would anyone invest so much time and effort to install and maintain a CMS when portable and “available everywhere” applications like Evernote and OneNote are so freely available?
One of the important issues is that there is no Linux client for Evernote or OneNote. These services can be accessed via web using a browser as client on Linux, but it is just not the same deal as a native client. This is a deal-breaker for people whose lives, in whatever way, revolves around GNU-Linux. Most importantly for me, I just do not trust them.

The pain of maintaining WordPress on Arch Linux made me look for alternatives. I used CherryTree, a hierarchical note taking application by Giuseppe Penone (aka giuspen), for a while and was mightily impressed. This application has all the basic features and new features are being added. Written in Python, the app runs on Windows and Linux. I wished to contribute code to this app, but got too busy. I can recommend CherryTree to anybody whose needs are basic. Give it a try, you will love it.

cherrytree-main_window_code

CherryTree is good, but my CMS needs are very complex. I had to find a way to get WordPress working minus the installation and maintenance troubles. I am just too busy and want things to just work.

I want only the baby, not the labour pain


BITNAMI LAMP STACK AND WORDPRESS MODULE INSTALLERS

I knew about the WAMPServer. I had deployed it at my workplace to prove the benefits of a CMS. I always wished there was a similar package for Linux. I found XAMPP during one of my regular tool searches.

XAMPP is a completely free, easy to install Apache distribution containing MySQL, PHP, and Perl. The XAMPP open source package has been set up to be incredibly easy to install and to use.

I started exploring XAMPP website and found a link to Bitnami. Bitnami has installers for a large number of CMSs, WordPress included. Bitnami has its own LAMP stack installer apart from having WAMP and MAMP stack installers.

Bitnami LAMP Stack provides a complete, fully-integrated and ready to run LAMP development environment.

Bitnami provides Virtual Machines with LAMP pre-installed

Bitnami virtual machine images contain a minimal Linux operating system and a fully configured Bitnami application stack. Running virtual machine images requires a hypervisor such as VMware or VirtualBox, so it is recommended for system administrators and advanced users.

Bitnami also has cloud Images for a very flexible developer workflow

Bitnami Cloud Images extend stack appliances to run in a cloud computing environment. You can run Bitnami applications on a pay-as-you-go basis, programmatically starting and stopping them. Bitnami Cloud Images are currently available for Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, with support for additional cloud environments planned for the future.


HOW TO USE BITNAMI INSTALLERS

Bitnami LAMP stack and WordPress module can be installed in a few minutes. The process is so easy that a chimp could do it. I kid you not. I have added a GIF below to demonstrate the insanely simple installation.

There are, however, a few subtle points that I would like to bring to light before we watch the GIF:

  • Bitnami LAMP stack + WordPress module (WP CMS, henceforth) installation is completely self-contained. There is no external dependency.
  • The WP CMS is, by default, configured for localhost access ONLY. This is a security measure that the installers employ. This is a boon for me. I do not have to fear accidentally opening up my machine’s ports for attacks. I do not need my WP CMS to have any connection to or from the internet. The articles that I add to WP CMS will surely have links and they will work when I have internet access, but that is completely different from opening ports inadvertently (this explanation was for beginners).
  • Multiple instances of WP CMS can be installed on the same machine, separated only by the directories they are installed in.
  • A very interesting consequence of the above facts is that the WP CMS can be installed on an external USB hard drive, thereby allowing the user full portability. For example, I installed the WP CMS on a USB hard drive, as shown in the GIF, from my workstation running openSUSE 13.2. I took the same USB hard drive and plugged it into my laptop running Arch Linux and the WP CMS worked without any issue. The goal of portability has been achieved.
    “Available everywhere” services make life easier, but privacy is tossed into the dumpster. With the current WP CMS solution, the goal of availability has still eluded us. However, if we are willing to carry our USB hard drive with us our problem is solved. A small sacrifice in comfort to safeguard our privacy.
  • Backing up the WP CMS is also very easy. Just backup the whole directory, if you are not really space-challenged. Else, WordPress alone can be completely backed up using WordPress guide or by installing backup plugins.
  • Upgrading WP CMS is also straightforward.

BitnamiLAMP&WordpressInstallation
POST-INSTALLATION STEPS

  • Get a good WordPress theme. I chose Customizr.
    A good theme can liven up the experience of using the WP CMS.
  • Get a good backup plugin if you do not want to backup manually. I chose Updraftplus.
    Backup is not optional. It is mandatory. **Do not skip this**. In fact, you should backup everything, not just WP CMS. Have multiple copies of backup in multiple media at multiple locations.
  • Delete all default plugins that WordPress comes with. We do not need them. We are not running a website, remember? Why would we need plugins that make our “website” faster etc.?
  • Now, start using… 🙂
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