Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8

Have you tried Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL8) yet? Read on to learn how to quickly set up a LAMP stack on RHEL8 so you can play around with the new features built into the operating system.

A LAMP stack is made up of four main components and some glue. The first main component in a LAMP stack (the "L") is Linux. In my example, I’m using Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 for that, which gives me a secure operating system, a modern programming environment, and a user-friendly set of tools to control it.

As for the web server, traditionally the “A” in LAMP stood for Apache, but in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, we actually have options here. We ship Apache httpd with RHEL8, but we also ship NGINX. Because I’m a bit traditional here, I’ll opt for Apache.

In RHEL8, Apache ships as an AppStream, which—among other things—allows us to provide content with varying life cycles. With AppStreams, we can, for example, ship multiple versions of Python and add new versions of programming environments outside of the normal RHEL release cadence.

Installing Apache on RHEL8 as easy as it was on earlier versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Run:

$ sudo yum -y install httpd

(You are using sudo, right? If you didn't set your user ID to be an administrator during installation, see How to enable sudo on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.) This command enables the Apache 2.4 AppStream and installs the httpd package, including its default dependencies.

To start this newly installed web server and make sure it will automatically start after a reboot, I’ll need to run:

$ sudo systemctl enable --now httpd

And, because I’ll want my server to be reachable over the network, I’ll need to open ports 80 and 443 on my system. We can do that from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Web Console (see the DevNation video at the end of this article for a demo), but for now, let’s use the command-line tools provided with RHEL8. They are quite easy:

$ sudo firewall-cmd --add-service=http --add-service=https
$ sudo firewall-cmd --add-service=http --add-service=https --permanent

That’s it. The first command opens ports 80 and 443 right now, and the second command makes sure that, after a reboot or firewall restart, the ports remain open.

Now for the database part. Again, traditionally, the “M” in LAMP stood for MySQL. However, nowadays, it can also mean MariaDB, MongoDB, or even PostgreSQL. You can see what databases RHEL8 ships with by running:

sudo yum module list

(I’ve stripped the non-database AppStreams from the output in Figure 1 for brevity.)

RHEL8 release notes

As you can see, MongoDB is not an option for RHEL8. You can read the RHEL8 release notes for a little background on why that is. What we do have, though, is MySQL 8, MariaDB 10.3, PostgreSQL 9.6 and 10, and Redis 5. That’s a lot to choose from!

I want to build a fairly traditional LAMP stack here, so I’ll opt for MariaDB, which is a drop-in replacement for MySQL. I want to install a database server, so the default profile (‘server’, indicated by the [d] in the output above) will work for me. If I only wanted the client bits, I could have installed the client profile, saving me a bit of disk space, and giving me, obviously, only the client bits of MariaDB.

For now, however, I’ll run:

$ sudo yum -y module install mariadb

By the way, a standard sudo yum -y install mariadb-server will work just as well.

A database that’s not running is of little use, so let’s start it with:

$ sudo systemctl enable --now mariadb

I don’t need to open firewall ports, because my web server and database server run on the same machine. If you have separate machines for Apache and MariaDB, you’ll need to add the MySQL service to the firewall, using the firewall-cmd command I showed above. You would also need to tune the SELinux policy to allow Apache to make network connections to a database (safety first!), by running:

$ sudo setsebool -P httpd_can_network_connect_db on

Finally, because I take my lessons around security to heart, I’ll run the mysql_secure_installation script:

$ sudo mysql_secure_installation

We are almost there. I have a proper Linux machine, I have my web server, and I have my database server. What’s still missing is a programming environment and some glue. Let’s see what programming environments are available for the "P" in LAMP:

$ sudo yum module list

I’ll not show the whole output again here, but we have PHP, we have Python in two major versions, we have Ruby, and a plethora of other options. Traditional LAMP means PHP for me, though, so that’s what I’ll be installing. One simple command should that care of it:

$ sudo yum -y module install php

Two final steps remain. First, there's the glue. To enable connecting to the MariaDB database from my PHP pages, I need to install a tiny library:

$ sudo yum -y install php-mysqlnd

Then, as the final step, I’ll restart Apache to pick up my newly installed PHP and the PHP MySQL library:

$ sudo systemctl restart httpd

That’s it, we are done. We can go into /var/www/html and drop a PHP application in it and everything should work.

Some months back, Burr Sutter hosted me on DevNation Live, and we recorded an overview of RHEL8 from a developer point of view. We covered installing and using programming environments, managing your development systems, and much more. Interested? Watch the video:

I hope this overview is helpful when you're ready to set up a LAMP stack on RHEL8. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter at @MaximBurgerhout.

Last updated: August 11, 2023