Easy Web Application Installs

Normally, when people start talking about blogging or hosting a custom web application like Gallery or WordPress, they tend to think of hosting them on Linux. This has generally been the case for a long time. In fact, for a while, I even hosted my personal sites using this software on the LAMP platform. LAMP, for those of you not in the know, stands for Linux Apache MySQL PHP and is considered the open source stack for web applications.

When I first came to Microsoft, I felt I should at least attempt to host the application on a Microsoft platform. Thus started my journey.

I have a server at home which was running the entire application stack running the Fedora Core variety of Linux. All of the packages of applications are generally very easy to install on this platform as most open source developers have historically targeted Linux-based systems. So, as an experiment, I installed Windows Server 2003 and IIS to replace the “LA” in LAMP with “WI”. [Yes, I know: the WIMP platform doesn’t sound so good, but that will change as you will read later.]

To my utter amazement, the applications ran great – even faster – on Windows and IIS on the same hardware.

This is not to say “easier”. Since these platforms are geared towards Linux, the text files which manage configurations are generally Unix formatted which mean no CR-LF (carriage return line feed) which is necessary in DOS-based text format. There have been installers in the past for say, PHP and MySQL, but not so much for the applications themselves. These were usually zipped file and folder hierarchies, leaving much manual configuration to the user.

This is now no longer completely true. While not totally false in many cases, this is beginning to change. Hosted on Microsoft’s web site is a Web Platform Gallery complete with installations for many popular web applications. Visit http://www.microsoft.com/web/gallery/ to see this for yourself. Many applications like WordPress, DasBlog, SubText, Gallery, and several others have been incorporated into the installer. Using the installer will copy the installation files to their proper place and even configure IIS for you with the appropriate settings.

As a part of my continuing effort to learn technologies that are not necessarily part of my core skill set, I decided to migrate from MySQL to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as my blogging/Gallery backend database – changing the platform acronym to WISP. I was pleased to find out that Gallery now supports this as the backend, so I also set out to determine if my current installation of WordPress would support it. Presently, it does not and the developers do not feel the need to try. So, I’m investigating moving to another application that supports SQL Server.

Perhaps I’ll check the Microsoft Web App Gallery for suggestions…