Open source technologies are providing developers with a range of more cost-effective, robust alternatives to commercial software for building dynamic, data-driven, secure Web applications. This practical guide presents a broad survey of LAMP technologies, and shows how these solutions can be implemented efficiently and securely while improving reliability and dramatically cutting costs. The book focuses on the most important core material necessary for the developer to hit the ground running and begin building applications right away, and shows the reader where to go to find comprehensive information on all the topics covered. The book introduces the pillars of open source development, and reviews the current techniques and standards for each. It shows what it is easily possible to do using them, what might be possible with more work, and how to decide which tool is appropriate for what task. In addition to the technologies in the subtitle the book also covers Embperl, mod_perl, Mason, and WML. The authors provide many examples, all of which are active on the companion Web site. Finally, the authors include extensive coverage of the security issues involved.
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About the Authors.
The Best of All Possible Worlds.
Open Source Software.
The best of all possible worlds.
Is this book for you.
Open Source Software.
It's not just for Linux.
How It Works.
What We Don't Talk About.
I. STRUCTURAL.3. Linux-the Choice of a GNU Generation.
Basic Unix.4. Apache Web Server.
Introduction and Description.
Starting, Stopping, and Restarting Apache.
Create the Website.
Apache Log Files.
Perl Syntax Rules.
A Quick Intro to Object Oriented Programming.
What We Didn't Talk About.
Loading and Dumping a Database.
II. STATIC.7. WML - Website META Language.
Creating a Template.
Other Helpful Includes.
A Better Template.
Configuring WML with .wmlrc.
Macros - Creating Custom Tags.
Programming Code - Eperl.
III. DYNAMIC.8. CGI - The Common Gateway Interface.
A First CGI Program.
What Can Go Wrong?
CGI.pm HTML Shortcuts.
Information Received by the CGI Program.
Form Widget Methods.
CGI Security Considerations.
A Note About die().
Project - CGI/MySQL/DBI.
Web Sites.9. Mod_perl.
Turning CGIs into mod_perl Programs.
Pure mod_perl Programming.
Project: MySQL, DBI and mod_perl.
Other Stuff You Can Do.
IV. EMBEDDED.10. SSI - Server Side Includes.
SSI Security Considerations.
Web Sites.11. Embperl (HTML::Embperl).
A Quick Example.
Posted Data and %fdat.
Other Embperl Variables.
What We Didn't Talk About.
Resources.12. Mason (HTML::Mason).
In-line Perl Sections.
Handling Posted Data with %ARGS and (%args).
What We Didn't Talk About.
Embedding PHP into HTML.
A Couple of Quick Examples.
Built-in PHP Functions.
PHP and MySQL.
Resources.Appendix A Source Code.
Is This Book for You?
This book's target audience is the person who wants to get an interactive database-based Web site up and running without spending a whole bunch of money on a large stack of books and software. That person might be a technically competent Linux user who is not necessarily a Perl or a CGI whiz; a graphic designer, with a technical bent, who wants to build a Web site without becoming a certified computer whiz; or an MCSE who has heard rumors that there might be another way to do things.
Up to now, these folks would have had to purchase four or five thick books and wade through them, picking out the knowledge needed to accomplish necessary tasks. It's likely they would accomplish this in a less than optimal way, picking up some things and missing others, revamping and redoing as they learn new things without being aware of the security considerations necessary to keep their site and computer safe. The goal of this book is to summarize much of the information about Open Source in one place and to do so in a manner that will get the prospective Web developer up and running safely and efficiently, including pointers to other resources when it becomes necessary to have more knowledge than provided here.
Our target audience, ideally, would have some familiarity with Unix, some sort of modern programming language (C, FORTRAN, Perl, Pascal, C++, Java--most anything will do), and HTML. The scope here, and the sheer constraints on its size, force us to limit explanations and assume some background knowledge; we touch on a lot of things, enough so that you ought to be able to ask the right questions on a search engine. If you don't have any Unix experience, or if you are not a seasoned programmer, this book can still be useful, with motivation and, perhaps, the purchase of other computer books.What It Will Do
In this book, we introduce you to the pillars of LAMP--Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl and PHP--with mod_perl, Embperl, Mason, and WML tossed in for good measure. We are biting off a lot with this book, and this is what we intended to do. We want to cover as much ground as possible and present you with various approaches for programming a Web site with Open Source products. The goal is to point out the part of each of these Open Source approaches that provides the most functionality.
Another goal is to make you aware of current techniques and standards: what is easily possible, what might be possible with more work, which tool is appropriate for which task. Just as important is how to discern the things you need from those you don't, or don't need just yet. Not least of all is how to do these things in as secure a fashion as possible. After all, you are opening up your "box" to the world with these techniques and should be wary of those with impure motives.
Based on experience, we believe that 80 percent of the utility of any complicated tool is a result of knowing 20 percent of the uses of that tool, whether that tool be software, hardware, mechanical, or electronic. Swiss Army knives are excellent and versatile tools, but most of the time, you just use the blade or the screwdriver.
The purpose of this book is to introduce you to that 20 percent--the blade and the screwdriver--that opens up the most functionality and to make you aware of the remaining 80 percent so that you can use the other tools when appropriate. And, to teach you to not use the blade as a screwdriver.Four Parts
The book is divided into four parts:
Part I, Structural: Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl - the structural system foundations on which LAMP is built, and the other programs run.
Part II, Static: WML - a set of programs which facilitate building and managing large-scale static Web sites using HTML files.
Part III, Dynamic: CGI and mod_perl - the programs with which to build dynamic Web sites.
Part IV, Embedded: SSI, Embperl, Mason, PHP - embedding programs within HTML pages.
So why have so many choices? Read on, gentle reader, and you will discover that a myriad of choices is the Open Source way!
Of course, with free software, there's free documentation--see www.linuxdoc.org and httpd.apache.org/docs/, to name two. The ultimate documentation, the source code, is available to anyone. (Thus, the Open Source joke, "Use the source, Luke!") Because of the large community of developers and users, there are many newsgroups and discussion forums in which it is likely that someone else has had the same problem as you and has posted a solution. Search using Google (www.google.com) and its interface to the USENET archive (groups.google.com).
If you've installed Linux from a distribution, much of the documentation is likely sitting on your hard drive. In an ideal world, you would just read it--that's what we did. Excellent resource though it is, it leaves something to be desired as a learning method. Much of it was written for reference, not instruction. Some of the documentation has not been updated along with the software. (Hey, these folks work for free. In any case, this is a problem to which closed-source software is not immune.)
For all our talk of being self-contained, realistically, two books that you can't escape having handy are Hacking Linux Exposed and Unix System Administration Handbook--or , more generically, a book on security and another on system administration. These two are our favorites (hereafter known as HLE and USAH). Each of these subjects is much larger than can be covered here, and both are crucial and unavoidable subjects (but also fun). Get them, read them, grok them.Companion Web Site
In the course of this book, you'll be shown examples of how to do all the things we discuss on an active Web site (http://www.opensourceWebbook.com/) so that you can see the code and the results, and also be pointed to additional resources. We're striving to be self-contained, but like books, and often tell you which other ones you might want to look at. The entire Web site can also be downloaded from http://www.opensourceWebbook.com/sourcecode/.
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