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© Lead Image © Corina Rosu, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © Corina Rosu, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 223/2019
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When setting up complex web-based services such as Drupal or Plone, there are many hurdles to overcome. Bitnami will make your job easier.

The task of installing servers – even on Linux – is often fraught with pitfalls; amateur admins face serious issues with finding all the dependencies and putting all the necessary pieces in place. Bitnami reduces the installation and configuration overhead associated with setting up a fully configured web server. The Bitnami project [1] provides complete packages, including the required infrastructure, and lets you install the whole stack all at once.

Bitnami is jointly developed and maintained by BitRock [2] and Bitnami, both from San Francisco, and it is available as free software under the Apache license. The individual stack components consist of the BitRock graphical installation program and the required server applications. Bitnami integrates the Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP (LAMP) environment, which is often used with web applications, into the stack up front. Since the stacks run autonomously, like virtual machine (VM) appliances, they do not require clumsy and error-prone modifications to your Linux system.

In addition to providing a complete application stack, Bitnami also offers preconfigured VMs for some applications. Bitnami also provides some applications as cloud instances or Docker containers. The project offers numerous applications for free download, including WordPress, Joomla, MediaWiki, and Ruby.

See the catalog on the Bitnami website for a list of supported applications [3]. You'll find that Bitnami does not offer desktop apps but only complex server and infrastructure stacks.

Setup

To install a Linux stack, select the desired application in the Bitnami Application Catalog and download it. You then assign execution rights to the package and call it up with a mouse click. The installer, which now launches, first asks you about the language setting; you can change this in the selection field if needed. The actual installation dialog for the stack then appears.

In the second step, the installer lists the components it integrates into the stack. It makes sense to select all components; otherwise, the desired software may not work correctly.

After a click on Next, you are taken to the dialog for specifying the target path in which you want to install the stack. Bitnami creates a subfolder with the name of the logged-in user in /opt/ by default. It creates a subdirectory there named after the application. You can change this path if so desired.

Then the dialog asks you for a username and password for the stack administrator account. Depending on the stack, Bitnami offers additional optional input for the software it contains: For example, you can enter the name for the WordPress stack or forum software. In the next step, you specify whether you want to enable the email notification system – if so, you then need to enter the SMTP configuration for dispatching the mail. Bitnami will then install the stack including all the components on your hard disk (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Bitnami installs the applications using a graphical front end.

Now a small welcome window with three tabs appears in the top left corner. In the active tab, Welcome, you will find five options in the bottom right corner. If Bitnami does not start the installed server application automatically, click on the Go to Application button to load the chosen program with the required basic applications.

If this does not work, one of the server applications that was configured as an additional component during the installation of the stack may not be running yet. The content of the Manage Servers tab gives you more details. This is typical of LAMP systems, where many server apps require an Apache web server and a MySQL database (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Under Manage Servers, you can determine whether all the applications are working correctly.

Use the buttons to the right of the server list to start, stop, or restart individual services. If you want to restart, terminate, or activate all services for the first time, use the buttons lined up at the bottom of the window. If necessary, you can also make fundamental changes to the configuration of a server by clicking on Configure. This includes, for example, changing the port numbers, but also accessing the error and access logs. Open Conf File can also be used to open the configuration file of the service for editing.

Administration

Manual administration work for the basic LAMP system database is usually done in a terminal. Bitnami integrates the graphical web front-end phpMyAdmin [4] into its stacks for convenient administration of MySQL databases. If you do not want this, you can deselect the option in the installation dialog.

To start the interface, click the Open phpMyAdmin button in the Bitnami window. You then authenticate and set the language for the interface (if needed) when you call it up for the first time. The configuration interface then opens in the web browser (Figure 3). You can create, edit, or delete tables; create, manage, or delete databases; or display data records. PhpMyAdmin also comes with a user administration tool.

Figure 3: PhpMyAdmin simplifies the configuration of the MySQL database, especially for inexperienced users.

Extensive documentation can be found on the phpMyAdmin project website [5]. In addition, there is a manual in PDF format [6], which reflects the current development status of the software, online.

Manual

Since the individual Bitnami stacks do not create any start entries in the common user interfaces' menus, it makes sense to manually create a corresponding launcher, which you can use to conveniently switch a service on and off at the push of a button.

You start the software manually in the stack's directory with a click on manager-linux-x64.run; this opens the Bitnami window. You can make this application permanently available by creating a suitable menu item.

If you want to operate the stack without using the graphical front end, enter the ./ctlscript.sh <Parameter> command in the stack directory at the prompt. As a parameter, you can pass in either start, stop, or restart to do precisely what it says on the box to all the services. The status parameter displays the current status of the individual components.

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