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PHP: The Good Parts – Book Review

Wez Furlong received a copy of PHP: The Good Parts as a thank you for his participation as a technical reviewer, and loaned it to me for a read. After reading it, I wanted to put together a brief review of the book for those who might be interested in this new title from O’Reilly.

My overall impression of the book was disappointment. To some degree I was hoping for a book that would show me special parts of PHP that perhaps I had overlooked; instead, the book focuses on a basic introduction to PHP, and one that isn’t very detailed in the first place. The book’s focus as an introduction also fails to teach basic programming concepts, meaning that non-programmers will not find the book to be useful.

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Upgrades In Open Source

PHP 5.3 has been out now for eight months, and in that time lots of projects have made decisions to begin developing against this version of PHP. Juozas Kaziukenas makes the argument that you shouldn’t be afraid of PHP 5.3 and he provides a number of excellent points to support his argument.

I don’t dispute that PHP 5.3 is faster, better, cleaner, and more feature-rich than previous versions. In fact, I’m thrilled to develop for myself on PHP 5.3 and even released a guide for installing it on Ubuntu because the Ubuntu package managers didn’t put it in for the last release.

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Cool DateTime Functions In PHP 5.3

Over time, the PHP DateTime object has become one of the best objects available to PHP developers. This object has grown since early PHP 5 into a robust class that has the ability to do lots of great things.

Recently, I was exploring some of the functionality provided by the DateTime object as of PHP 5.3 (and wishing that Ubuntu had PHP 5.3 as a package distribution). Here are some of the new things in PHP 5.3 that are really cool.

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First Glance: Apple’s Snow Leopard

For those who like the newest in development tools, Apple has surely delivered with the Snow Leopard operating system upgrade.

Apple has compiled PHP 5.3, including many of the extensions they forgot in the PHP 5.2.x version included with Leopard. This includes GD, and the MySQL Native Driver (mysqlnd) that is available in PHP 5.3. They’ve also compiled Subversion 1.6.2, and Apache 2 is included as well (2.2.11).

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PHP 5.3 Not In Next Version Of Ubuntu

When the next version of Ubuntu is released on October 29th, PHP developers won’t be able to upgrade to PHP 5.3 through the included package management tools.

A meeting of the development team on July 30th nixed the inclusion of PHP 5.3 from inclusion in Karmic, the next iteration of Ubuntu for the desktop and the server. According to meeting minutes, there is concern amongst the Ubuntu security team that failure to include the suhosin patch in the PHP release would be a feature regression. Instead, the release will be referred to PPA until more testing can be completed.

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Installing PHP 5.3 On Ubuntu

With the release of PHP 5.3 to the world, I wanted to be one of the first to try it. The problem is that the typical package managers for Ubuntu won’t include PHP 5.3 for some time – perhaps as long as a year. This is a problem, since I really want to try PHP’s latest and greatest features for myself.

The problem is, there seems to be a lack of clear, coherent instructions online about compiling PHP on Ubuntu from source. Either it’s so insanely simple that anyone who does it figures everyone else knows how, or everyone relies on the pre-built binaries released by the world that any time I search for “Ubuntu PHP source” I get “why don’t you just use the built-in package manager?” And so, I wanted to write a set of instructions for how I configured and compiled PHP, on Ubuntu Jaunty.

For the most part we’ll use standard out-of-the-box packages that Ubuntu provides. Since the features I’m looking for are in PHP 5.3, I’m fine with having slightly outdated packages for other software as long as they’re compatible with PHP 5.3.
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