Bitnami stack is a package of software that is required to run specific web application separately. Typically, web applications require server programs preinstalled and running : web server ( apache usually), database server and various components. Bitnami “Stack” is free pre-assembled packages, that can be installed and launched on your own PC, home server, virtual box or cloud server. Yes, there are Bitnami stacks for Amazon AWS and GoGrid too.
Why Bitnami is useful? I see three main reasons: solving dependancies for launching simple applications, speeding up installation process and keeping system secure from the possible bugs in application. Lets tackle all of them.
Firstly, launching some web applications might be a nightmare. This is especially true if the application has specific requirements for software versions and modules. One might need to install particular version of Ruby, rails or php. one would need to install proper apache modules, etc. Bitnami makes it simple – just one install for everything required.
Next, is the speed of the installation and security of this approach. To install and make everything work one would spend more than couple minutes that Bitnami installation takes. And the best of it – it can be run at user space by non-administrative user, which would limit damage if something really wrong would happen. You will not have to install additional modules to your webserver, or install something into existing software to make stack work. You will not have to doublecheck if other applications are running properly after the installation.
I use Bitnami to get all Ruby dependancies for redmine installation of mine. While I do not need a custom webserver and separate mysql process, Ruby installation had paid off. If you do not want run separate apache process listening to specific port, you have to remove the apache ctrl files in Bitnami installation and change the configuration for virtual you reserved for the application. Just copy the information from application config file available in application folder (apps\redmine\conf in my case) into the virtual configuration and restart your main apache. The same way I turned off svn and might turn off separate mysql process as well.
More info about bitnami is available here.