From Windows to Ubuntu – a Web Dev’s experience

Moving from Windows to Ubuntu isn’t just a technical learning experience, it brings you closer to what it means to own a general purpose computer. Getting started with Web Development in a LAMP stack on Ubuntu, however, is incredibly simple.

Getting Started

To get started, open a Terminal window (Ctrl + Alt + T) and run:

sudo apt-get install tasksel
sudo tasksel

This will run Tasksel in the terminal. Use the direction keys to highlight LAMP Server, press Space to check it, then Tab to move focus to Ok and Enter to proceed.

You’ll be prompted to setup a password for MySQL root user. Do not forget this or you’ll lock yourself out!


When installation is complete, you’ll probably want to install phpmyadmin for managing your databases:

sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

Accessing your Server

You can visit http://localhost to access your server (by default, the document root is at /var/www) and http://localhost/phpmyadmin to access phpmyadmin — login with user root and the password you set during installation.

Useful Commands

Backup config files

sudo cp /etc/apache2/apache2.conf /etc/apache2/apache2.conf.bak
sudo cp /etc/apache2/httpd.conf /etc/apache2/httpd.conf.bak

Before editing any server configuration you should backup the files in case you need to restore them later.

Restart Apache

sudo service apache2 restart

If you change any server configuration (for example, apache2.conf or httpd.conf in /etc/apache2) you’ll need to restart apache for the changes to take effect.

Watch Apache’s Error Log

tail -f /var/log/apache2/error.log

If something isn’t working as expected, running this command in the terminal will show the error log and tail any changes to it.

Learning Bash

Do as much as possible in the terminal — it really is the best way to learn about your new operating system! The Command Line Crash Course is an excellent resource for learning the necessary basics of Bash.

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, learn Terminator to really speed up your tasks!

When will I stop sucking?

Linux won’t hold your hand like Windows does (and it won’t gracefully degrade like a Mac!). You will make mistakes (like good ol’ sudo rm -rf / — do not run this command, however much you trust the person telling you to) and you will have to learn — but it’s worth it. So much.

Stick with it — it’ll take about a month to go from sucking to being proficient at the basics, and when you do, you’ll be happy you did!

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