Checklist for Setting up a CentOS 6 LAMP Server

I have to set up a new LAMP server for different clients here and there, but not with enough frequency to warrant using a particular scripted solution or 'stack' from a particular hosting company. Plus, I like to have a portable solution that is flexible to the needs (and constraints) of a client's website.

Note on hosting providers: For hosting, I've used a very wide variety of hosts. I typically use and recommend Hot Drupal VPSes or Linode VPSes [affiliate link] running CentOS for a good LAMP server. Shared servers are only good for nonessential or low-traffic sites, but they are a bit cheaper and easier to use for simpler needs!

So, here's a typical step-by-step process for how I set up a CentOS 6 (similar process for CentOS 5) server for LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP), often for low-to-moderate Drupal sites (one or many):

  1. Set the server's hostname (guide).
  2. Set the server's timezone (guide).
  3. Install any existing updates using yum update (guide).
  4. Security: Add a non-root admin user, disable SSH password and root login (guide).
  5. Create a firewall for the server (guide).
  6. Enable the REMI/EPEL repos (guide) (for more recent versions of PHP, MySQL, Apache, etc.).
  7. Security: Install Fail2Ban (guide).
  8. Insall Apache, MySQL, and PHP (guide).
    1. Drupal also requires php-gd and php-xml
    2. Some configuration variables you might want to change:
      1. /etc/my.cnf: max_allowed_packet (for non-trival database imports, you want this to be bigger).
      2. /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf: Apache settings.
      3. /etc/php.ini: memory_limit, upload_max_filesize, at least
  9. Install and configure APC for PHP opcode caching (guide).
  10. Install and configure Munin for server monitoring (guide).
  11. Install git ($ sudo yum install git since you have the REMI/EPEL repos).
  12. Install drush (guide).

After you've completed all these steps, go ahead and configure Apache's VirtualHosts however you'd like (I typically create a special user for all the sites I run on that server, and include a 'vhosts.conf' file from the user's home directory in Apache's httpd.conf file). Then point a domain name to the server and see if everything's working for you!

Jeff Geerling is the owner of Midwestern Mac, LLC, and writes for this blog, his personal website (Life is a Prayer.com), and many other sites. He is an active contributor in the Drupal community, and has primarily been a Mac user since the 1990s. See more about the computers he has owned here: My Computing History.

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