Tag Archive: Web served

Web Served, part 5: A blog of your own

We’ve got a Web server. We’ve got SSL/TLS. We’ve got PHP. We’ve got a database. Now, finally, it’s time to do something with them: we’re going to set up self-hosted WordPress, one of the Internet’s most popular blogging platforms.

Certainly, WordPress isn’t the only choice. There are many blogging platforms out there, ranging from big and full-featured content management systems (like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla) to static site generators like Jekyll (and its customized variant Octopress, which I use on my own blog). However, WordPress is extremely popular, and it also has a wealth of themes and plugins available with which you can customize its behavior. So, because it’s the platform that first comes to mind when people think of “blogging,” we’re going for it.

Disclosure, and a word on security

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about setting up WordPress. Some parts of this article will be taken from my previous blog post on the subject, though the instructions here will contain a number of improvements.

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Web Served, part 4: Get your database on

For new readers just joining us, this is the fourth in a series of articles on getting your hands dirty by setting up a personal Web server and some popular Web applications. We’ve chosen a Linux server and Nginx as our operating system and Web server, respectively; we’ve given it the capability to serve encrypted pages; and we’ve added the capability to serve PHP content via PHP-FPM. Most popular Web apps, though, require a database to store some or all of their content, and so the next step is to get one spun up.

But which database? There are many, and every single one of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately we’re going to go with the MySQL-compatible replacement MariaDB, but understanding why we’re selecting this is important.

To SQL or NoSQL, that is the question

In most cases these days, when someone says “database” they’re talking about a relational database, which is a collection of different sets of data, organized into tables. An individual record in a database is stored as a row in a table of similar records—for example, a table in a business’s database might contain all of that business’s customers, with each record consisting of the customer’s first name, last name, and a customer identification number. Another table in this database might contain the states where the customers live, with each row consisting of a customer’s ID number and the state associated with it. A third table might contain all the items every customer has ordered in the past, with each record consisting of a unique order number, the ID of the customer who ordered it, and the date of the order. In each example, the rows of the table are the records, and the columns of the table are the fields each record is made of.

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Web served, part 3: Bolting on PHP with PHP-FPM

A Web server that can only serve out static pages is fine for a lot of folks. If you just want a homepage with a list of your favorite links and some pictures of your cat, then a bare Web server is all you need. However, if you want to learn about doing more interesting stuff—setting up a forum or a wiki, or using popular blogging apps—then you need some way of generating dynamic content—that is, a website that can be changed or updated programmatically, rather than one made simple static files.

As with most Web server-related things, there are many paths to dynamic content. However, some of the most popular Web applications—things like phpBB, MediaWiki, WordPress, and Drupal—use a server-side scripting language called PHP. That’s what we’re going to install, because it’s relatively easy to get PHP up and running and because having PHP available gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility in what you can do with your Web server.


One advantage Apache has over Nginx is the ease with which PHP can be enabled. Nginx, unlike Apache, has no ready-made modules to install, so there are several packages we need to pull down and several configuration files to edit to get PHP working. Never fear, though—we’ll cover every detail.

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