cat/dev/DiBona/brain: LAMP to WAMP to XAMP to SOFT

New users are making their way to Linux and open source, one acronym at a time.

We all know what LAMP is: Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl. Many people also refer to the LAMP platform when they mean Python for Perl or PostgreSQL for MySQL. The point is a nice stack of free software applications is available that we can use, and they are remarkably powerful.

What we don't talk much about is their application on Windows and Apple's OS X. Although I don't relish the idea of more and more annoying acronyms sprouting from the fruitful soil of open source, there is some truth in saying that more and more people are finding the same amount of utility in running Apache, MySQL and PHP on top of Windows or OS X, independent of a Linux foundation.

My first reaction to this trend was a bit of disappointment, as these people weren't using Linux as their foundational layer. This disappointment quickly was supplanted, however, by the realization that once a person has embraced these technologies, the $1,300 or more they spent on Windows Server starts to look a little galling. I mean, if Linux can host Apache better than or as well as Windows or OS X, why spend the extra money?

I hate presenting this anecdotally, without any extra data or sexy graphs from well-known analysts, but this kind of thing is pretty hard to measure. That said, I do find myself encouraging people to explore these applications on Windows or other proprietary operating systems and doing so without guilt.

Similarly, running, Firefox and Thunderbird (with Linux for LOFT) is a pretty great way to run a corporate desktop. For those unfamiliar with it, Firefox was splintered off of Mozilla with an eye towards speed and utility. Mozilla is a large application, encompassing Web browsing, mail, chat and more. Firefox is the Web part of things, and Thunderbird handles mail and usenet news. These applications are solid performers in their niches, and we've seen a terrific swell of support for Firefox from many different directions. I know that I'm not alone; most free software enthusiasts seem to be pretty happy recommending the Firefox browser in all of its glorious, non-popup, tab-endowed sexiness.

Many have credited Firefox with re-igniting the browser wars and giving Microsoft Internet Explorer a run for its money. Along the same lines as LAMP, these applications and others--such as GAIM, the terrific multi-protocol instant messaging program, and the GNU Image Manipulation Program (The GIMP)--all run pretty happily on Windows. And although could be a bit smoother on OS X, progress there too is coming along. It is my hope that as more users try and settle on these fine applications, they'll be driven to try Linux out for size as well.

What about the S? S is for Sunbird, which, although it needs further development, looks like a good candidate for calendaring as it moves forward. Maybe we can replace L with S in LOFT? Sure, why not? Of course, that'll lead to XOFT and WOFT and, well, now we've come full circle.

Chris DiBona is the Open Source Program Manager for Mountain View, California, based Google, Inc. These writings are the author's opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of his employer. Before joining Google, Chris was an editor/author for the popular on-line Web site, and he is an internationally known advocate of open-source software and related methodologies. He co-edited the award winning essay compilation Open Sources and can be reached by way of his Web site.



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Anonymous's picture

Slashdot, Google, Oreillynet, Yahoo and LinuxJournal/LinuxWorld/

Every site needed by geeks like us.

-kevin bedell

Re: cat/dev/DiBona/brain: LAMP to WAMP to XAMP to SOFT

Anonymous's picture

I thought P in LAMP means PHP...

Re: cat/dev/DiBona/brain: LAMP to WAMP to XAMP to SOFT

Anonymous's picture

It does.

Re: cat/dev/DiBona/brain: LAMP to WAMP to XAMP to SOFT

Anonymous's picture

Why must everything boil down to money?. If OSX is a easier solution to run AMP why not?. You're working for google, perhaps you can forgo charging for everything and just give it away for free!

If you are telling people to run linux and not pay Apple money, I'm going to start a Jihad against Google and tell people to use free stuff and not pay you guys anything....see how that hurts every body?

Re: cat/dev/DiBona/brain: LAMP to WAMP to XAMP to SOFT

Anonymous's picture

I actually didn't mean it that way, if OS X works for you and you're running AMP on it, then that's just terrific. I am explicitly not telling people they have to run Linux...did you read the article? I'm saying that when people get used to using free software on proprietary platforms, that is good for free software.

As to instigating Jihad against anyone over software prices, that's pretty weird.

Chris DiBona

Re: cat/dev/DiBona/brain: LAMP to WAMP to XAMP to SOFT

Anonymous's picture

Note to editor: you might want to put a space after 'cat' in the headline.

Twelve Step TrustABLE IT : VLSBs in VDNZs From TBAs

NZheretic's picture

Part Two of Two
Twelve Step TrustABLE IT:
Virtualised Linux Standard Base (VLSB)
in Virtual Demilitarized Network Zones (VDNZ)
from Trusted Build Agents (TBA)
Back in August 11, 1998, Microsoft's Vinod Valloppillil and Josh Cohen released a memorandum titled Linux OS Competitive Analysis: The Next Java VM?, in which they predicted that Linux would become ubiquitous as a services platform. However, the title of the paper could be even more prophetic.Consider the following.
[1] It is well known that Linux is quite portable, in fact only NETBSD comes close to the number of hardware platforms supported.
[2] What is less well known is that the Linux kernel has even been ported to run on itself, as client for a virtual Monitor platform, and even to run virtualised on other operating systems including Win2K and XP.
[3] Other operating systems, such as BSD and Sun's Solaris can also use a compatbility layer to run applications compiled for Linux directly, without the need for virtualisation.
[4]The Linux Standard Base Mission Statement is to

To develop and promote a set of standards that will increase compatibility among Linux distributions and enable software applications to run on any compliant system. In addition, the LSB will help coordinate efforts to recruit software vendors to port and write products for Linux.

[5] The above standard also defines a generic subset of the standards for each hardware platform as a source level application interface. In fact for an application to be certified for the LSB it must be tested on two of the plaforms supported by the LSB, one chosen at random by the testing body. Following the standard, it's not that difficult a job to write portable C and C++ code : Write once, compile for each platfom.
[6] The GNU Compiler Collection's future GCC 4.0 Release Series now divides the task of compiling into two stages based around Static Single Assignment trees. It should be possible to use the new GCC front ends to compile each language into a SSA tree that represents the common generic subset of the Linux Standard Base: [5].The resulting SSA tree for a build could be dumped into files, analogous to Java's JVM intermediate format, and then complied to native code for the target platform: Write once, run everywhere.
Be it open or closed source, every binary or script you execute represents a risk. It is possible to introduce hostile code at any point along the build chain, before the point where the binary is checksummed and the result digitally signed.
[7] It is possible to use constraints built into any Linux or Unix like operating system to isolate and restrict what a binary executable has access to or can do. Even without employing SELinux's manditory access controls or chroot/jail'ed environments, it is possible to run a process under a different user identity and group identity. Unix servers have used this technique for decades . With desktop applications. virtual identities and home directories can be assigned each user, the application could be limited to what files it could read and write.
[8] Because operating system security is fallible, it is sometimes better to run some services and applications on a separate computer that is isolated behind a network firewall that limits its access to the internal network and servers. This network area is sometimes called the demilitarized zone, and is often given the designated color of orange in comparison to the red colored external network and the green internal network.
[9] It is possible to use operating system virtualization in [2], to provide a virtual client operating system that access the host operating though a virutal network device. This can be used to provide a Virtual Linux Standard Base (VLSB) platform that runs in a Virtual Demilitarized Network Zone ( VDNZ).
[10] It is also possible to grant remote servers access to the Virtual Demilitarized Network Zone though the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Application service providers and webservices could use this gain restricted access to an organizations servers and users desktop environment. Using VLSBs the service could be distributed over the ASPs own servers, any third party distributed hosting provider , or even the customer's ISP. Each step could increase the bandwidth and reduce the latency between the service and the customer. [11] It is possible to bootstrap and cross compile a GCC development build chain from scratch on many platforms to mitigate even Ken Thompson's Trusting Trust issue. If you use the same open libraries and compile using GCC hosted as an LSB application, then, using the same tool chain and libraries, it is possible reproduce the build on another platform based on the same Hardware LSB standard and produce a very similar, if not identical, binary. This ability to reproduce the the build and compare binaries can provide means to audit builds to confirm that a binary is the result of compiling a particular set of source code.
[12] Governments, organizations and individuals are becoming increasingly concerned about software compatibility, conflicts and the possible existance of spyware in the software applications they use. If you have access to the source code, then you can check it and compile it for yourself. This is not an option for closed source proprietary applications, and not everyone has the resources to check each line of source code. One solution for these issues is to employ a trusted third party, separate from the application developer, who is tasked with maintaining a trusted build environment, to build the binaries from source code. The Trusted Build Agent (TBA) would hold the source to each build in escrow, releasing the source code for only open source licensed code. Competing businesses providing a TBA service in a free market would compete with each other in not only price and level of certification, but also on the ability to detect hostile, vulnerable, incompatible or just plain buggy source code. You could request a trusted build from multiple TBAs test the ability to detect defects. Defects would be reported back to the application developers, along with any patches and suggestions that provide a fix. To a lesser extent, most Linux distributions and other operating system vendors that build and redistribute open source licensed code already provide this role.
While not all of the above steps are currently available, it is the ability to combine any of the above steps which make's Linux, and to a lesser extent any operating system capable of hosting VLSBs, such a powerful platform.

TOFU - Thunderbird,, Firefox and User services -

NZheretic's picture

Part One of Two
Thunderbird, and Firefox provide the cross platform toolkit client side application toolset.
User services can be defined as any combination of LAMP/Java.J2EE/DotNot which provides interfaces between those first three applications and an organization's enterprise resources. For example, a web based front end to search for or generate Openoffice/Oasisformat file, and return a file location relative to the client's network location. All together : TOFU:- Thunderbird,, Firefox and User services.
User services can run entirely on an organization's servers, or be split into a hybrid webservices model, running on servers and a cross platform framework on the client. The latter model offers the oppertunity for the client side component to directly interact with the user applications Thunderbird, and Firefox. Using either approach it is possible for the user to interact with multiple User services each to a different organization,department, task or even a third party service.
There is one more letter that can be added to the acronim that can deliver a virtually future proof cross platform richer remote client interface. X is for X11Rx:

The X Window System, more simply 'X' or 'X11', is judged worldwide to be one of the most successful open source, collaborative technologies developed to date. It is the de facto standard graphical engine for the UNIX* and Linux* operating systems and provides the only common windowing environment bridging the heterogeneous platforms in today's enterprise computing. The inherent independence of the X Window System from operating system and hardware, its network-transparency, and its support for a wide range of popular desktops are responsible for its continuing and growing popularity. All major hardware vendors support the X Window System. Many third parties provide technologies for integrating X Window System applications into network or personal computer environments under DOS, Windows, Windows 9x, and Windows NT, while thousands of independent software developers provide X Window System applications. The worldwide community of users of the X Window System currently exceeds 30 million.

The X11 interface remains the only network/wire graphical windowing system where the the client side display servers have remained backward compatable to 1987 era remote application servers. You can have a X application server set up behind an internal firewall and have it running for decades. An organization's investent in custom development can be assured to run for the life of the hardware it runs on. There are X display servers built by the OS vendors for MacOSX, Win2K and XP and third party vendors abound for X display servers abound.. Remote applications can run either on their own virtual desktop or side by side with native applications in native themed windows.
TOFU-X can provide the ability to compartmentalize access to content that is future proof with on the fly, near zero client install. You can provide access to restricted documents via a secured remote application server. You can also provide access to internet content seperating hostile environments from your current desktop envronment. You can even use the strategy to provide a rich user interface for remote applications provided by Application Service Providers. This ability to provide isolated compartmentalized access on isolated servers represents the only strategy currently available to truly secure an organizations I.T. .

Re: TOFU - Thunderbird,, Firefox and User service

Anonymous's picture

Readers in the UK may prefer, to rearrange this as, Firefox, Thunderbird which gives the initials OFT which in the UK is Office of Fair Trading.

Monopolists beware...

Re: TOFU - Thunderbird,, Firefox and User service

Anonymous's picture

P in LAMP stands for "Perl, PHP, Python (in no necessary order), and
whatever dynamic language that doesn't start with a P (Ruby comes to mind)".

yaAMP (as the acronym makers would have it)

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps only noticed by the Big Red devotees, NAMP (on Netware) has been available for a while.

Obviously what we need is a resurgence of VAXes (sorry, VAXen)....

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