Beginner’s Resources for PHP-MySQL Development
Sometimes developer’s don’t find the perfect startup environment for PHP development when they are in their initial stage. Setting up PHP with Apache could be difficult for beginner if he don’t know how to modify httpd.config or php.ini settings. In my initial stages I have installed PHP with IIS and then Apache and later even tried EasyPHP too. But EasyPHP has no release for PHP5, so that made me down. Never mind after some time I came across a PHP, MySQL and Apache package with which I fall in love. It is truly zero configuration installation to start PHP, MySQL development with Apache over any platform including Windows, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X. The other good alternate to that is WAMP Server if you are using Windows for development.
XAMPP or WAMPSERVER both are good development environment for novice or experienced developers when want zero configuration LAMP/WAMP environment. You can even use it for production server with modifications in some of security measures and optimizing MySQL and PHP settings as per your server configuration (mainly memory).
About XAMPP Package
XAMPP Comes with different flavors, different OSs and in different sizes. Advanced users can find list of available addons of your choice from http://addons.xampp.org. Apache Friends has a quite a good community support as well as bug reporting if you encounter any. You can use it on any OS and get just started by just unzipping the package or installing it in few clicks of buttons. There are availability of upgrade packages as well.
It comes with Apache - OpenSSL, FileZilla FTP server and Mercury mail server which you can configure if you want smtp/pop mail server running on your server. It comes with MyISAM as default storage engine for MySQL, but anyway it can be modified easily if you prefer InnoDB in my.cfg.
About WAMPServer 2.0
As the name suggests it is Apache + MySQL + PHP only for Windows and it don't support any other OS as of now. Very intuitive system tray menu from where we can enable/disable PHP extensions/ini settings, Apache modules and so on. One advantage over XAMPP is that now you can plug any PHP / MySQL /Apache version into your WampServer and try out any combinations, so if you wish to experiment with different combinations this could be handy choice. It lacks FTP / Mail server extras but quite good environment for Windows developers. It comes with InnoDB as preconfigured MySQL engine. You can download it from http://www.wampserver.com.
I don't want to start XAMPP vs WampServer comparison but both are good choice depending on your OS and other personal preferences. Both of them comes with goodies like PHPMyAdmin, SQLiteManager and good amount of extensions/modules for PHP and Apache. Both have Apache compiled with OpenSSL. Both gets their new version when there are some updates in any of the AMP components, at regular intervals. You can try with any of them and get started with PHP/MySQL world. I personally prefer XAMPP even on my Windows box you can have different choice.
For your information here is list of Apache, MySQL and PHP Packages on wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_WAMPs