Web Servers In A Can: Now In Stock At Mac App Store

Web developers using OS X, take note: If you want to create a fully contained server stack in which to build and test your latest ideas on Joomla, Drupal or WordPress, you're just one click away from creating such an environment.

Four Different Choices

Within the App Store for OS X can now be found four such stacks, courtesy of BitRock's Bitnami, a free software service that enables you to install various software stacks either natively on Windows, OS X or Linux; as a virtual machine in VMware or as an Amazon Cloud instance.

Full disclosure: I've been a Bitnami fan for a long time. The stacks it offers, which include Alfresco, ownCloud and SugarCRM, are very easy to install and are perfect for fast setup when I want to review software or slap a together a website.

The stacks offered in the App Store include Joomla, WordPress, Drupal and a generic MAMP stack (Mac, Apache, MySQL, PHP) - all popular website platforms that are installed natively on your Mac machine.

Bitnami stacks installed natively are not installed as they would be if you built the software in the stacks by scratch. Instead of code getting installed all over the place, the binaries for the stack are all placed inside one directory, completely self-contained.

A Different Kind Of Walled Garden

The Bitnami stack from the App Store, it seems, are walled off even more, according to reports from users. The App Store's sandboxing apparently makes configuring the software a little harder than it normally would be, so if you're going to do extensive development with these stacks, users are recommending you visit Bitnami and get the native installation packages from the company directly.

This is not to decry the App Store's Bitnami stacks. I pulled down the Joomla stack, installed and configured it, and was ready to work with it in minutes. I can play around with themes and extensions in Joomla to my heart's content. Best of all, there was little to no resource dragging on my system, which I sometimes experience when I run one of these stacks as a virtual machine in VMware or Parallels.

Serious developers may indeed want to pull down the images straight from Bitnami, or better yet, install one of these stacks as a full-on Amazon Machine Instance on the EC2 platform and create an eventual production version of the stack you're creating.

It's too easy not to.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.