Within PHP, the current Big Thing, in a way, is namespaces. However: it’s brand new and not every PHP developer knows how, if at all, to use then. Good thing there’s tutorials about that. Sitepoint has one in three parts: 1, 2, 3.
Zend Developer Zone: “Drizzle is a new, lightweight fork of MySQL specifically designed for cloud applications. Although Drizzle is still under development, it’s attracting a lot of attention from developers around the world. This article introduces you to Drizzle and shows you how to use the Drizzle PHP extension to perform queries, retrieve result sets and handle errors in your Drizzle+PHP application.”
There’s been a lot of buzz about Drizzle lately. Need to check that out some time.
I reset the time on our mailserver, because NTP wasn’t working (or at all running, I guess). Immediately my mail client started complaining about the connection. The above error message was the cause. It’s both funny and explanatory. I like it.
However, Cherokee didn’t always try its hardest to serve us well: sometimes it decided to pull the server’s load to a performance-decreasing number, configuration of much needed features was “not yet implemented” or buggy and the software is overall not done yet. Also, the developers have, weirdly, decided to use exclamation marks as separators within the configuration, which is just plain annoying.
So we started looking towards other solutions. And we decided to go back to our other option before we chose Cherokee: Lighttpd. With Lighty, as it’s pronounced, we can apply these performance rules:
I’d like to show you which configuration options we used. The following applies to a default Lighttpd (version 1.4.19) as shipped with Ubuntu 8.10. If you’re using a different OS or if you’ve downloaded Lighttpd yourself, I assume you understand enough of it to translate the following to your own situation.
Add an Expires or a Cache-Control Header
For this, we need mod_expire. With that module, we can instruct Lighttpd to include both the “Expires” and the “Cache-Control” headers in the response. To enable the module, we uncomment this line:
This line is mentioned in a list of modules at the top of lighttpd.conf. If it’s not, you should look for the list somewhere else in the file and uncomment the line or simply add it, but without the hash sign.
Next, look up a line that says ‘expire.url’. It should be there and commented by default. Uncomment it and configure it to do what you want it to do. For us, Lighttpd is entirely dedicated to serving static files, which all need to be cached by the client for a long time. Let say, for documentation’s sake, we choose two weeks as the caching time. This would then be our configuration:
expire.url = ("/" => "access plus 14 days")
This leads to these two headers when a URL from the Lighttpd-server is requested:
Expires: Thu, 25 Dec 2008 13:30:31 GMT
And that’s it! Enable the ‘expire’ module, configure the expire time, and you’re done.
To apply gzip encoding of the repsonse body, we use mod_compress, which is enabled and confgured by default. However, not everything we want to compress is actually being compressed, so we change this:
Over time, we might add other mime-types we forgot to include, but the above covers most of the requests.
When requesting an image with any regular browser, it will be sent to us, gzip-encoded. If you’re using FireFox with the Live HTTP Headers extension, you can find these in the response headers:
This confirms that it’s working.
This is the easy one. In our default installation, a request to the server gave us this as one of the response headers:
Last-Modified: Wed, 10 Dec 2008 13:16:32 GMT
Because we currently use one server for the static serving, this is all we want. So we’re done.
And that concludes the confguration of Lighttpd as the optimal static-files-webserver.
Ivan Zoratti: “The content can satisfy the appetite of a technical audience and of more business-oriented IT managers at the same time. We will have sessions on performance, on scalability solutions and on Proxy, with hands-on the servers, difference parameters and tools. IT managers will probably find interesting a renewed set of HA solutions and some renewed views on the infrastructures used to power the Web.”
I’ll be attending the London conference, after having been there last year, and I’m looking forward to it. Am I again going to be one of the few Dutch folks in the crowd?
It’s one of those facts that you learn once and then always remember: if you want your URL’s to be properly indexed: don’t stuff them with querystring-data. Make them nice, like they’re static URL’s. That’s what I always knew. Like riding a bike, you never forget it. But Google says this isn’t exactly true;
We’ve come across many webmasters who, like our friend, believed that static or static-looking URLs were an advantage for indexing and ranking their sites. This is based on the presumption that search engines have issues with crawling and analyzing URLs that include session IDs or source trackers. However, as a matter of fact, we at Google have made some progress in both areas. While static URLs might have a slight advantage in terms of clickthrough rates because users can easily read the urls, the decision to use database-driven websites does not imply a significant disadvantage in terms of indexing and ranking. Providing search engines with dynamic URLs should be favored over hiding parameters to make them look static.
Google Webmaster Central Blog
Not only does Googlebot read dynamic URL’s just fine (and now I think of it: why wouldn’t one of the largest tech companies make any progress in this area over all these years?), they actually favor it if a dynamic URL is the ‘original’ of your URL scheme. Googlebot will figure out the parameters and do the indexing the right way.
Of course, static-looking URL’s are still nicer for a user to look at, and sometimes a URL that doesn’t have querystring-parameters can still be dynamic, but for Google’s sake: don’t rewrite it just for them. Good to know!
When I started out PHP’ing, I bought a little PHP book called ‘PHP pocket reference’. It was one of those small O’Reilly books and it was written by Rasmus Lerdorf himself. I still have it, although of course I don’t use it anymore.
The book focused on PHP3, although PHP4 was already released. So, basically, I learned PHP with version 3. I started out writing scripts with a .php3 extension, something I still don’t understand; why was the version number included in the extension?
Anyway, not long after I started PHP’ing, my environments switched to PHP4 and I became a PHP4-developer. And I still am. One of my employers still uses PHP4 and although today is PHP4′s death date, there is no indication that there’s an urge to speed up the upgrade process (which thankfully is in place and being worked on).
The problem with PHP4 and PHP5 is that the upgrade process actually is a big step. For the software, because not everything ‘just works’ when you upgrade to 5, but also for the developers. Some of my co-workers still consider the features that were introduced or improved in 5 ‘new’, although they’ve now been included with PHP for years. And that’s understandable; when working heavily on projects in PHP4, and without having the opportunity to check out what’s ahead and trying to use newer features, you’ll never get a taste of it. Of course, developers should take those opportunities themselves, checking out new features and developments in their own time, but not everyone does that.
So today is the end of PHP4. Not really of course, because lots of developers will probably still spend months working on PHP4 code. It will work just fine and do just what you want forever, it just won’t have any updates anymore, But if you consider the fact that some servers (even those of my employer) still run a 4.3.X-version of PHP, that hardly matters.
I’m glad I switched the projects at my other employer to PHP5 at the start of 2008; not only are we up to date, but the new features (or simply the small improvements in existing features) make working with PHP a lot nicer. And we’re ready for the future; PHP6 is upon us, and I hope it will be adopted (and adoptable) a lot faster than its predecessor.
PHP4, you’ve served us well. You paved the way for PHP5. Thanks! Now get out, and stay out.
It’s always fun to compare tools. Who works with what and especially, why? Following the example of Flickr and some others, let me list my tools, see if you match:
Living and working:
I take my Mac everywhere. I work on it at work, even though it is a private machine. At home, I use VLC to watch video’s and DVD’s, NetNewsWire for the daily read, Celtx for screenwriting, Mail.app for.. well duh, RealPlayer to listen to BBC Radio 1 or iTunes for my music collection, Twitterific for Twitter and Unison to eh, browse newsgroups.
Well, that’s most of it. What about you?
I like conferences. They bring a combination of information, context, some discussion and all kinds of impressions to you in audible form. In a form that doesn’t require you to browse through blogs or magazine articles. Also, you can reflect on the subjects with others during the break times. Or just reflect on it by yourself. In some way, it differs from just reading about the topics on weblogs or online manuals, it’s got a different vibe. One I like.
So last weekend I went to the Dutch PHP Conference. I went last year, and I liked it, so attending this year’s edition seems logical. But after a day of listening to some interesting talks I’m wondering: who is the indented audience for this conference? Am I even in it?
Let me explain by walking through the day. After @ijansch‘s opening, we were welcomed into the history of PHP by Zeev Suraski, one of the founders of Zend and with that, one of the people who made PHP what it is today. It’s nice to hear the story from someone first-hand, as opposed to reading it in the PHP Manual.
He gave his view on PHP today: it’s mostly done, and our focus as a community has been, and still is, shifting to frameworks. In a way that’s like saying “we’ve been building the car for a few years, now it has become time to do some driving”. And he’s right. PHP is never truly done, of course, but it is fairly done, and now it’s up to the frameworks to mature and become the highly useful, production-ready toolkits we all need (yes, need, even though some of us might not know it yet). In my view: some parts of frameworks wille eventually become more attached to the core of PHP, as often-used parts will grow into the extensions area.
After Zeev, Marco Tabini, publisher of php|architect (which I’m subscribed to), explained how important mayo is to the PHP world. No, wait, that wasn’t it. He wasn’t very PHP-specific, but his keynote was quite interesting nevertheless.
Lunch came and went, and the breakout sessions started. I attended the ones presented by Gaylord Aulke, Lorna Jane Mitchell and Ivo Jansch.
Gaylord talked about how you would go about creating, maintaining and using an infrastructure when you’re working in a team. He explained about development locations, version control management, test- and staging servers and deploying your work to a live server. This very much connected with Lorna’s talk, which focused on deployment in general, and on doing that with subversion in particular.
Both talks were interesting, but only small bits of it were giving me new information or a perspective I didn’t think of before. Both gave me the impression that the intended audience would not include people already working in teams, with version control already very much in place and several live projects to maintain. Those people would already have invented (and/or implemented) the proverbial wheel for their own situation. Which is the case for me: at both of my jobs, an infrastructure is in place and working nicely. Nevertheless, both talks were interesting, and some viewpoints offered, along with a nice feeling of confirmation, some food for though and/or Googling.
After the break, the choice was to be made between Stefan Priebsch’s session on the upcoming PHP releases, a session by Matthew Weier O’Phinney about best practices within Zend Framework (this description is not as accurate as it should be, but we’ll get to that) and Ivo Jansch’s presentation about Enterprise PHP.
Because information about PHP 5.3 and 6 can be found on the mailing list, wiki pages, blogs and the slides Stefan posted before the conference, that one was an easy choice: no need to attend. The session on Best practices within Zend Framework would only make sense if you were actively using ZF, I thought, so that would not be very practical at this very moment (I was wrong, as you can see by reading the actual description on the site, it’s not ‘within’ Zend Framework, but ‘inspired by’ it, if I understand correctly). So I entered the room in which I would be very cautious about product placement (kidding).
Ivo’s session had ‘Enterprise PHP Development’ as its title. Because I work in a couple of teams/environments where the label ‘enterprise’ might, in some way, be a suitable one, I thought I’d attend this session. It’s always nice to get some tips, attention points and such. But, the session was basically about the same as Gaylord’s and Lorna’s. Not that he covered the same topics, but again I felt like I knew a lot of it already. He covered ten main points you need to be thoughtful of when working on your projects, of which some were very obvious, and others inspired some thinking while in itself not being new (to me, at least).
After all this, my colleagues and me were interviewed for a Bachelor ICT video, in which we expressed our concerns about the lack of depth in the sessions. Terry Chay had already started his keynote by that time, so after missing the beginning, we hurried in and stood in the back, while listening to a very interesting and nice keynote. Chay is a wise man, I said to myself.
Looking back at the day in its entirety, I think I expected more. I already called my feeling about the sessions a ‘lack of depth’. This of course isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A PHP Conference, especially one in a community that’s still growing and has a lot of people still learning how to be the best, should be aiming for a wide audience and not exclude beginners. However, if some f the sessions would last longer, maybe the contents could become more hands-on and give you more the feeling you’re walking away with lots of information to research in the days or weeks after the conference.
I’ll probably attend next year’s edition, but can I silently hope for some more advanced content?
» MacGDBp – a PHP debugger using XDebug
» Dutch PHP Conference 2008 – The Video – I was interviewed. Did I make the cut?
» DPC’08 review by Rick Buitenman
» The Top Ten Subversion Tips for CVS Users
» The Subversion Book
» Running multiple FireFoxes on your Mac
» PHP Performance Series: Maximizing Your MySQL Database
» Which is the fastest browser?
» Download FireFox 3 and install it on my Mac (my Ubuntu machine switched to FF3 weeks ago)
» Download this possibly very interesting PHP Debug thingy for the Mac
I’ve got lots of content in my RSS aggregator that I “want to read, but not right now”. And I keep skipping over it, making sure I don’t accidentally mark those items as read, and that is starting to annoy me. So I’ll just do what every sensible guy does: make a note of those items and move on.
Adding to that, I thought I’d just share them with you, so here is my to-read list:
» Q&A and Recording of the Memcached Webinar
» How would you compress your MySQL Backup
» Please Give Us Your Email Password
» Give Your Site a Boost With Memcache
» MySQL Proxy: debug plugin
» MySQL Cacti templates 1.0.0 released (screenshots)
» Tools to use for MySQL Performance Review
» Designing For Evil
» Videos in the Flickr API
There. Now I can clean out some items in my aggregator. I’m gonna do this more often, by the way.
Lore Sjöberg: “here’s what I often do: I put my laptop back into my satchel, put my iPod back into my coat and bring my entire life with me into the bathroom”
Lore ponders what to do if you’re working in a cafe and have to use the bathroom. I think I would take option 4: pack it all up, emty my bladder, and unpack everything when I return. Fortnunately, when I’m in a cafe, doing some work, it usually is only for a short time so I actually never have this problem.
I don’t use my iPod when working on my laptop, by the way: i just plug my earpods into the laptop and use iTunes or RealPlayer to listen to music.
Eric Bergen: Have you ever executed a query from the MySQL command line client only to find that the output wrapped and the result is unreadable?
I have. A lot.
In the past you have to run the query again with \G instead of ; or \g to get it to display the output in a vertical mode. My feature in MySQL 6.0.4 fixes that.
I am standing up and cheering. No, really. I love those little things that make life (yes, I said life) easier:
The auto-vertical-output option tells the command line client to display the results in vertical format if the results are going to be too wide to display horizontally. It does this without re-executing the query because MySQL passes the length of each column in the result set.
It’s a shame MySQL 6 is still so far away, but still: nice feature!
When I work, I usually use two computers: an Ubuntu-powered PC and my MacBook Pro. Of those, the Mac is my main machine: I have all my development tools and environments running on it, I use it for mail and documents, my music is on it (because I can’t work in silence), etcetera. It has this value to me because I can carry it to wherever I need to, which means I can use it at both of my two jobs, plus on location if I ever need to (and sometimes I do).
But there’s one thing missing: although Mac OSX is a very nice OS, probably the best I’ve worked with, I still need Linux to complete my wishlist. The combination of Krusader and Kompare, for instance, is a golden one if you need to organize your development projects. Krusader is a two-pane file manager, with the option to use FTP and SFTP or just local files. Whenever I need to examine the difference between two versions of the same file (and I need to do that a lot: before commiting my changes to version control, I want to know exactly what I’m doing), I set up Krusader to have a folder with one version of the project on the left and one version on the right. I then select the files I want to compare and the magic happens: Kompare starts.
Kompare is a frontend to the
diff tool and as such not that special: if I just want to quickly see the difference between foo.php and it’s current state in CVS I can just use the built-in comparison tools from Zend Studio for Ecplise. But: Kompare is so much better! It has coloring to differentiate between additions, removals and changes, is more precise (due to the tried-and-tested
diff being the backend) and has the ability to apply some of my changes to the other file, which enables me to be more exact in what I commit (you know, sometimes you have several changes in a file, but just a few of them belong to that relevant bugfix and the others are for that new feature that’s still unfinished, so you want to do a partly commit).
So, I need Linux next to Mac, because those tools don’t run on Mac OSX. When at home (for Job #1), that’s no problem. My only PC is an Ubuntu machine. But at work (at Job #2), I have an old PC which is kinda slow which I use for this. And the slow part, that’s annoying. Because whenever I need to use Kompare, I need five to ten minutes to boot the thing, and every action after that needs a lot of patience.
But, I share my desk with a colleague who sits there when I’m at Job #1. And he has his own PC, stalled under the desk next to mine. A new, fresh one, nice and fast, running Windows, and I already discussed making that one a dual-boot so we can share not just the desk, but the PC as well. But I don’t have the time to go and install Ubuntu next to Windows, carefully selecting partitions, making sure I don’t nuke his installation, and whatnot. So even months after “Hey, can I make that one a dual-boot?” – “Sure!” I’m still working on the slow machine.
Enter Wubi. Shipping with Ubuntu 8.04 next week, it’s an Ubuntu installer for Windows. And it does exactly (exactly!) what I need:
When I rebooted my machine, an option to boot Ubuntu was added to my Windows boot list, and after selecting it, Ubuntu started loading just as it would if installed on a dedicated drive. I was even given the normal GRUB menu.
So now I can just boot my colleage’s machine, put in the Ubuntu CD, click through the installer and enjoy Ubuntu. No need for me to run the Ubuntu installer, carefully selecting drives, doing all kinds of stuff that costs me time. Just click-click-install, the Windows way.
Life really does get better with every Ubuntu release.
MySQL organizes a lot of conferences thoughout the year — for instance, last October I attended the Customer Conference in London, which was very interesting and gave a nice insight into the world of MySQL. But if there’s one conference that could carry the title ‘The MySQL Conference’, it would be the one held in Santa Clara, CA this week.
Because it is a larger conference, there’s more coverage. And the coverage is more organised. So if you weren’t attending, like me, you might want to dive into the blog posts and presentations that can be found online. This wiki page seems like a good starting point. Anyone got another?
I don’t get this. I’ve had this on servers, on desktops, now I have it on my Mac: a process froze, didn’t do a thing and just ignored the hell out of me. So what do you do? Kill it!
In Mac OSX, there’s a little interface which allows you to choose an application and force it to quit. Works every time. So far. But how do you solve the frozen-process problem with a fullscreen application that won’t let you switch to another application, like Front Row?
Tonight, my Mac froze on Front Row. I was comfortably sitting in bed, ready to watch an episode of a tv show on DVD, when Front Row just froze up. Silent. Nothing. No response. So I got out of bed, walked to my Linux PC and logged into my Mac using SSH. And I looked up the logs. And there it was:
Mar 31 22:41:46 Yoda2 diskarbitrationd: Front Row :40707 not responding.
Non-responsive. That’s fine, I thought, I’ll just kill it, get back into bed and start over. But Front Row didn’t let itself be killed:
breuls@Yoda2: ~ $ ps aux | grep Front
breuls 4435 0.3 0.0 590472 84 s005 R+ 10:43PM 0:00.00 grep Front
breuls 4394 0.2 3.8 430184 78816 ?? U 10:39PM 0:11.11 /System/Library/CoreServices/Front Row.app/Contents/MacOS/Front Row
breuls@Yoda2: ~ $ kill 4394
breuls@Yoda2: ~ $ ps aux | grep Front
breuls 4394 0.0 0.0 0 0 ?? E 10:39PM 0:00.00 (Front Row)
breuls 4440 0.0 0.0 590472 204 s005 R+ 10:44PM 0:00.00 grep Front
That’s right. Didn’t listen to the kill command. Now, I know about the several options to kill. I tried several, including the -9 switch. Didn’t work. Front Row ignored me, all the way through my giving up and pressing the reset button.
I hate that. That’s not supposed to happen. Kill -9 is supposed to be the last way out of trouble. It-should-work. But it didn’t. Why am I not in control of my own laptop? Why is there an afterlife to kill -9?
According to Baron Schwarz the second edition of High Performance MySQL (the first edition being written by Jeremy Zawodny and Derek Bailing, which I read twice and still often use as reference) is in production, meaning that it’s written and being prepared for print.
That’s good news! As a MySQL developer and DBA, I’m very interested in knowing every piece of information about how to make MySQL perform well, and as soon as I can, I’ll order a copy.
Canonical: “Landscape provides users with a hosted web interface on which all machines are registered. From this single interface, packages and security updates are deployed to the entire network of servers and/or desktops with a single click. Additionally a wealth of monitoring data is provided graphically to the administrator showing process and resource use as well as flagging any available security fixes for the system.”
Wow. Cool. Seems like a real time saver; currently, when I have to apply changes to a group of machines, I find myself logging in and out of each of them and that’s not very funny when you know your server farm increases in size regularly…keep looking »