With the recent Joomla exploit it became even more clear that we hsphere hosters have to find a way to get the latest PHP versions onto our servers.
We are using CloudLinux on every web server already to take advantage of its ability to keep customers resource usage in check.
CloudLinux also comes with alternative PHP packages (alt-php) including hardened PHP which are EOL php versions that the CloudLinux team keeps patching.


For several weeks we researched ways to use the alternative PHP packages as replacements for hsphere PHP.
Good news! We did it!
Before we go into detail on how this was accomplished, please keep in mind our hsphere web setup before any changes are made:

  • – Apache 2 worker mode
  • – FCGID active
  • – mod_hostinglimits active
  • – CloudLinux 5 with Hybrid Kernel (CL6 will work just as well)

Now on to how we accomplished the goal of replacing hsphere PHP with Cloudlinux PHP.
At first we tried to get a custom suexec from CL to replace the hsphere suexec. However, under hsphere, the pathnames to all PHP binaries are actually hardcoded into the suexec. So, a custom suexec with just adjusted parameters will NOT work.

Next, we decided to try to litterally replace the hsphere php binaries with cloudlinux binaries.
This turned out to work pefectly well even though sadly cagefs will not work within PHP scripts due to the missing custom suexec.

Here are the steps:

  • yum install cagefs lvemanager -y
  • yum groupinstall alt-php -y
  • yum install alt-php54-zend-guard-loader -y (only on CL5)
  • /usr/sbin/cagefsctl –init
  • Now copy the sample PHP ini files from one user to /etc. Reason is that under Hsphere, the suexec does not respect cagefs which means php is looking for the php.ini in /etc/cl.php..
    cp -r /var/cagefs/00/[SAMPLEUSER]/etc/cl.php.d /etc/
  • edit the global php ini file to your liking: /etc/cl.selector/global_php.ini. What you add here will be compiled into each global php.ini in the next step
  • /usr/sbin/cagefsctl –setup-cl-selector
  • The last step is to copy the CloudLinux php binaries over the old hsphere binaries.
    Reason this needs to be done this way is that the hsphere suexec containts the path to the php binaries hardcoded.cp -f /opt/alt/php44/usr/bin/php-cgi /hsphere/shared/php4/bin/php
    cp -f /opt/alt/php52/usr/bin/php-cgi /hsphere/shared/php5/bin/php
    cp -f /opt/alt/php53/usr/bin/php-cgi /hsphere/shared/php53/bin/php
    cp -f /opt/alt/php54/usr/bin/php-cgi /hsphere/shared/php54/bin/php
    cp -f /opt/alt/php55/usr/bin/php-cgi /hsphere/shared/php55/bin/php
    cp -f /opt/alt/php53/usr/bin/php-cgi /hsphere/shared/php-internal/bin/php
    (You need to use PHP 5.3 for internal PHP, otherwise the webshell will no longer work)
    rm -f /usr/bin/php
    rm -f /usr/local/bin/php
    ln -s /opt/alt/php55/usr/bin/php /usr/bin/php
    ln -s /opt/alt/php55/usr/bin/php /usr/local/bin/php

BTW, nothing stops you from for example doing a:
cp -f /opt/alt/php5.6/usr/bin/php-cgi /hsphere/shared/php4/bin/php

So, if nobody uses PHP 4.4 anymore on a server you convert it to PHP 5.6 this way, or if you are on CL6 you can use PHP 4.4 to be PHP 7.


Why?

I was in the need of professional forms for a Joomla component I’m currently writing. With “professional” I mean the forms have to look professional and also need to be validated in a professional manner. I first went through a lot of Javascript/CSS solutions. However, in the back of my mind I thought I still have to validate all input on the Server level (Within the Joomla component itself) Finally I found an actively maintained Forms Library that after some testing worked great within any Joomla Component.

Here are some basic notes on how I accomplished this:

I’m using a file called loader.php located in the library path in my component Directory. I call it from my main controller file like this:

require_once(JPATH_ROOT.DS.'components'.DS.'com_component'.DS.'library'.DS.'loader.php');

in my loader PHP I have this line:

JLoader::register('Form', JPATH_COMPONENT.'/3rdparty/PFBC/Form.php');

As you can see I just copied the PFBC folder into a folder called 3rdparty within my Joomla component folder. Now you can use PFBC anywhere in your component by creating the object like this and add a field for example:

$form = new Form("testing", 300) ;
$form->addElement(new Element_Textbox("My Textbox:", "MyTextbox"));
$form->addElement(new Element_Button);

Assign it to the View as usual:

Joomla Open Source logo

$this->assignRef('myform', $form);

 

And render it in the tmpl file:

echo $this->myform->render();

PHP 7.2 Hosting

PHP 7.2 has been officially released by the PHP team in November 2017 and is now available for all our customers to use on their website if they wish.

That means HelpingHost.com now offers PHP 7.2 Hosting.

PHP 7.2 contains many improvements and new features such as:

PHP 7.2

  • Convert numeric keys in object/array casts
  • Counting of non-countable objects
  • Object typehint
  • HashContext as Object
  • Argon2 in password hash
  • Improve TLS constants to sane values
  • Mcrypt extension removed
  • New sodium extension

If you want much more detail on what changed, please take a look here.

What does this new PHP version mean to your PHP apps such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or Magento?

We found a 10% speed improvement over PHP 7.1 and it is about three times as fast as PHP 5.6. Tests using the latest WordPress did not show any problems.
However, keep in mind that your WordPress plugins also need to be up2date to ensure compatibility with the latest PHP version.

Joomla 3.8 core seems to work as well with this latest PHP release.

Looking for PHP 7.2 Hosting? Give us a try!

Existing customers can change the PHP version used for their website from within the hosting control panel.
Each website can use its own PHP version.

If you feel your site has issues with PHP 7.2 you can also switch back to any older PHP version you like to use.


Today we will talk  a bit about the different modes in which the PHP Engine can run under the Apache web server and what the differences are. The two modes available are mod_php and CGI.


  • PHP running under mod_php means the PHP engine is activated and configured only one time exactly when you start apache. The biggest advantage of this mode is that PHP runs very fast since it can take advantage of caching and does not have to perform certain tasks every time a PHP script is being executed. One of those tasks is for example loading the configuration. This is also one of the big dis-advantages mod_php has. To make any configuration change, PHP or actually Apache needs to be restarted. Another negative for mod_php is the fact that is executed under the user under which Apache runs. This creates various permission issues especially for files created by the PHP script.
  • PHP running in CGI mode means the PHP Engine is called whenever Apache detects a php script needs to be parsed. It has th advantage that configuration changes can take effect immediately but it also makes the script execution a lot slower since the Engine has to read its configuration on each and every php files that needs to be executed. In addition, it is much harder to take advantage of memory caching since every call to a PHP script creates a whole new environment. So basically a script you are executing multiple times will need to be loaded into memory from the harddisk every time. The biggest advantage of running PHP in CGI mode is the fact that it is executed under the FTP user account it belongs to. It creates a lot less issues with writing files via PHP Script.

With HelpingHost.com you can switch the mode in which PHP runs on each of your websites independently. Simply login to your hosting control panel and edit the Web Service settings of the domain you are working on. Just remember, it can take up to 20 minutes after you hit “Apply Changes” until the web server picks up your changes.


Update:

You know have the option to choose the FastCGI mode to run PHP.

This mode combines advantages of both, mod_php and CGI mode.
Basically it starts PHP one time on the first request of a PHP script and keeps running for the next several requests. This will dramatically speed up the speed of your PHP scripts.

As stated before, you can just switch your website from within the hosting control panel to use PHP 5.3, 5.4 and 5.5 in FastCGI mode.

[subtitle subtitle_content=”Update 2018:”]

We now have PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1 and PHP 7.2 available.
In addition a new PHP mode where PHP runs under mod_lsapi is now available.

This new mod_lsapi is based on the LightSpeed API. It is ultra fast. Test it out!