In the most general terms, a Web application is a piece of software that runs on a Web server. A Web server is a just a specialized computer designed to host Web pages.
Most Web applications are comprised of two components: files and a database. When you install a Web application, you will need to make sure all of the files are copied over into the appropriate location AND that a database (and database user) has been set up to connect to those files. Often, you will have to do some configuration to make sure the application knows how to access the database.
The system we use for Domain of One's Own uses a special script installer called Installatron that allows you to automatically install dozens of open source applications. When you use Installatron, you don't need to worry about moving files, creating datbases, or doing the initial configuration. It's all taken care of for you. You can find out more about Installatron here.
In order to run on the Domain of One's Own server, Web applications must be able to run on a LAMP server. “LAMP” is an acronym for the technology stack that is installed on the server:
Generally, if you are using applications available to install by default through the Domain of One's Own server, you shouldn't need to worry about these technical details. All of the software that is available for installation meets the technical requirements.
If you're interested in finding/installing another application (that isn't available through our automatic installer tool), then you'll have to be sure that the server can support it. To start with, you'll want to be sure that the Web application can run on a LAMP server. Check the techincal requirments for the application to determine this. You'll also need to do some research about whether there are any additional services or modules required on the server. Some software may require components that aren't included in the default installation of the LAMP stack. In that case, contact us with details about what you need, and we'll see what we can do.