If you are looking to host your own tiles you might want to start with some base ones from OSM. I can confirm that the bundled script in Geo-OSM-Tiles works but there are plenty of other non-perl alternatives as described at The OSM Wiki page Category:Tile_downloading
downloadosmtiles.pl --lat=-27.919123 --lon=153.386257 --zoom=13:14
Using Openlayers you can do a lot of the transforms and adding image layer and vector rendering quite nicely in the browser directly and the downloaded tiles are neatly packaged ready to be served and consumed by OpenLayers. NB - if I remember correctly there are a few little tweaks to get the tile file format pattern correct but is not complex and works really well.
One of the things I remember surprising me when I was playing with this stuff is that it's almost trivial to transform location formats which can be a reason people jump into dependence on a backend geo application server.
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