Reconsider the quick phasing out of older versions

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Philethius
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:51 pm

Reconsider the quick phasing out of older versions

Post by Philethius » Fri Sep 18, 2009 8:50 pm

Hi,

We use phpMyFaq as an internal FAQ system in the company I work for. The server that it runs on is a CentOS 5 box with PHP 5.1.6 on it. As another user requested awhile back, 5.1.6 is the version that CentOS (and presumably the equivalent RedHat Enterprise version) has stuck with, regardless of what version PHP currently supports. That means our system is stuck on the 2.0 series, regardless of what version you release. In addition, the roadmap seems to suggest that the product will phase out upgrades from older version in a fairly quick manner meaning not only are we stuck on an older series, but we couldn't upgrade easily to the new series if we wanted to when those new version come out. Quite a lot of time and investment goes into those questions and losing that data is difficult and starting over is difficult to deal with.

I know it is probably difficult and annoying to maintain older versions or upgrade support for a long time, but I am unsure why this software needs to have such an aggressive upgrade schedule. I would think people would not be upgrading their core server software on a whim every time a new version comes out because of stability. I understand the security argument here, but a) this is an internal website and b) stability would trump new features, especially if the packages for security flaws keep patching the current version.

Just a thought,

Thanks for your time.

Thorsten
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Re: Reconsider the quick phasing out of older versions

Post by Thorsten » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:26 am

Hi,

I really understand your objection. I still support phpMyFAQ 2.0 until the end of the year. There's also a possibility to run phpMyFAQ 2.5 and later on PHP 5.1.6. If you need support for that, just e-mail me.

I'd chose PHP 5.2 as new minimum requirement because it was two years out when phpMyFAQ 2.5 was released and it's better, faster and more secure than the latest PHP 4 release. PHP 5.0 and PHP 5.1 are not as fast and stable as they should be. This was also the reason no one upgraded from PHP 4 to PHP 5. So PHP 5.2 is the best version so far (except 5.3, but it's too fresh in my opinion and no distro has built in 5.3 packages... okay, Mac OS X 10.6 has... )

So, If you like, I have some proposals for you:

- support phpMyFAQ 2.0 as long as e.g. CentOS / RHEL 5.x is in support (how long does this take?)
- present some informations on phpmyfaq.de for running phpMyFAQ 2.5 and later on PHP 5.1.x

One point: I'm doing all this in my free time beside my daily work so typically you cannot expect 5 year support for a phpMyFAQ version. But I try! :-)

bye
Thorsten
phpMyFAQ Maintainer and Lead Developer
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Philethius
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:51 pm

Re: Reconsider the quick phasing out of older versions

Post by Philethius » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:36 pm

Thorsten,

Thank you for your reply. I understand where you're coming from in terms of support so its understandable that older versions cannot persist forever.

With the roadmap, I was concerned that our data was locked into a certain format based on the database support. Between versions (2.0.x versus 2.5.x), I wasn't sure what actually was changing in the database, so the most alarming thing for me was being stuck on a very old version. The problem with a lot of web servers that aren't custom built is that the goal is stability. CentOS matches the RedHat Enterprise equivalent, which I'm assuming is RHEL 5.4, so the support of CentOS 5.x is probably going to mirror the RedHat series. They also back-support older versions too, so longevity is a goal. However, I guess the most alarming thing was the dropping of PHP 5.x support altogether pretty quickly in favor of PHP 6 (though that point had a question mark beside it). Again, in the web server world, I would think that stability (and hardening for security) of older versions is favored over running newer versions. I also think its the responsibility of the server admins to make sure their servers are secure and stable as opposed to the authors of web-based programs. Having new features is one thing, but stability seems to be something the administrator needs to understand (i.e. what packages are being run on a given server) and deal with themselves.

To address your questions:
1) I'm not seeing a deliberate end-date for CentOS 5, but if tradition holds, older versions still see some updating, too, so it's probably a multi-year thing. RHEL commits to a 7 year lifecycle according to their website. I chose CentOS because it mirrors a very stable and well-supported Enterprise-grade distribution.
2) Not sure exactly what you mean here, but technically, if there isn't a problem with missing features, certainly I can make an effort to make version 2.5 work on PHP 5.1.x. My job is not being a server administrator, either. I'm a programmer who is trying to leverage simple, free solutions for our internal purposes. We also utilize a PHP bugtracker on the same server so I have to be careful about breaking support for that as well.

Thanks again for your time.

Thorsten
Posts: 14705
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2001 11:14 am
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Re: Reconsider the quick phasing out of older versions

Post by Thorsten » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:15 pm

Hi,
Philethius wrote:With the roadmap, I was concerned that our data was locked into a certain format based on the database support. Between versions (2.0.x versus 2.5.x), I wasn't sure what actually was changing in the database, so the most alarming thing for me was being stuck on a very old version.
except of some new tables there is no big change in the database from 2.0 to 2.5. Even oldschool MySQL 4.1 is still working.
Philethius wrote:1) I'm not seeing a deliberate end-date for CentOS 5, but if tradition holds, older versions still see some updating, too, so it's probably a multi-year thing. RHEL commits to a 7 year lifecycle according to their website. I chose CentOS because it mirrors a very stable and well-supported Enterprise-grade distribution.
okay. We also use RHEL at some customers.
Philethius wrote:2) Not sure exactly what you mean here, but technically, if there isn't a problem with missing features, certainly I can make an effort to make version 2.5 work on PHP 5.1.x. My job is not being a server administrator, either. I'm a programmer who is trying to leverage simple, free solutions for our internal purposes. We also utilize a PHP bugtracker on the same server so I have to be careful about breaking support for that as well.
Well, I can give you all the informations that you should need. I think the biggest changes from 5.1 to 5.2 are ext/json, ext/filter, and ext/xmlwriter. These extension are now part of the core PHP distribution (as of 5.2 and 5.3) and were only PECL extension with 5.1. So you have to install these extensions.

If you need help please feel free to contact me!

bye
Thorsten
phpMyFAQ Maintainer and Lead Developer
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Philethius
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:51 pm

Re: Reconsider the quick phasing out of older versions

Post by Philethius » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:34 pm

Thorsten,

Thank you again. Your reply gives me a little perspective on what you were changing between versions. Wish I had more time to delve into this code, but company demands are much more pressing.

I will look into the issue with PHP, first, to see if PHP 5.2 is viable (honestly would like to upgrade, but don't want to have to do a complete custom installation). There is a procedure to get PHP 5.2 packages from the dev repository that I thought about doing so long as they are considered "stable enough" for our purposes.

If I decide to go the other route (PHP 5.1.x), I will definitely let you know. I appreciate your help.

phpMyFAQ, by the way is about the only high-quality, free PHP FAQ system I could find that meets our needs. Keep up the good work.

Thorsten
Posts: 14705
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2001 11:14 am
Location: #phpmyfaq
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Re: Reconsider the quick phasing out of older versions

Post by Thorsten » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:37 pm

Hi,
Philethius wrote:phpMyFAQ, by the way is about the only high-quality, free PHP FAQ system I could find that meets our needs. Keep up the good work.
thank you evry much!

bye
Thorsten
phpMyFAQ Maintainer and Lead Developer
amazon.de Wishlist

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