PHP 7 so much faster than PHP 5

php7-transparentEarlier this year, I decided to make the leap to PHP 7 prior to it officially becoming a part of my servers distribution (I run Ubuntu).

It has probably been the easiest and best change I have made to my personal server stack in a number of years.

Granted, it wasn’t without a few minor issues. In the custom PHP code I wrote for clients, I got a little lazy over the years and did not open my PHP code blocks with <?php … and still just had php.ini to allow that, but I decided to go through my custom code and add the

Switching to PHP 7 gave a very large advantage… The speed. It is substantially faster than PHP 5. I ran benchmarks on my 1GB linode before and after the switch and PHP 7 literally doubled the speed of code execution.

Here are my basic server specs on most of my servers. There are minor variations.

Linode 1GB VPS
Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS
MySQL 5.5.50-38.0 Percona Server
Nginx 1.4.6
PHP 7.0.9-1 (FPM)

Along with the PHP 7 switch, moving from the unmaintained Cherokee web server to Nginx as well as adding WP-Supercache to *all* my WordPress sites, the speed increase is VERY notable. Almost like I’m using a CDN when I am not. 

Between my three primary servers, I am running 53, 43 and 37 sites on each. Probably 75% WordPress, 25% Static HTML bootstrap type sites. CPU load times are never greater that 1.0 and usage rarely exceeds 5-10% (Primarily thanks to WP-Supercache).

Linode “Nextgen” upgrades

Linode “Nextgen” upgrades

Linode has invested over a million dollars into upgrading their network, servers and bandwidth to levels that are unparalleled when it comes to all the features they have already made available to subscribers.

There are three parts to the “Nextgen” upgrade so far.


The Network

“We’re spending $1 million making our network faster. Way faster. Cisco Nexus 7000 routers. Cisco Nexus 5000 switches with Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders. Linode outbound network cap increased 5x. Outbound monthly transfer quota increased 10x.”

The Hardware

“We’re investing millions to make your Linodes faster. Crazy faster. We’ve begun a refresh of 3/4 of our entire fleet to a new ‘NextGen’ host hardware specification. And we’re upgrading all Linodes to 8 cores! Right now. As in all you need to do is reboot to double the computing power of your Linode.”

RAM Upgrade

“We’re doubling the RAM on all of our plans. This upgrade is available to existing and new customers. New Linodes will automatically be created with the new resources. Existing Linodes will need to go through the Upgrade Queue to receive the upgrades.”


These upgrades represent a MAJOR upgrade. I went from 1.2 TB of outbound to 12 TB. That is quite substantial. The 8 core hardware upgrade is a little harder for most to quantify, but it’s better than the 1-2 “visible” cores I get on DigitalOcean or other “minor” providers. The RAM went from 512 (for me) to 1024. That is very substantial as well when you determine how many sites you can run on a single 512 machine and how many more you can run with double the RAM.

I actually, to Linode’s loss, removed one of my VPS servers and moved sites over to one of the newly upgraded ones. I’m sure, once I outgrow my latest linode, I’ll expand to a new one once more, but for the time being, I love having the additional resources. For my “first” linodes and client ones, it’s great to have the additional resources, especially the “pooled” bandwidth.

Anyone who is looking for a VPS server would be stupid not to get one on Linode with all they have to offer. I manage 9 linodes split between 3 different accounts and the piece of mind that my sites are “safe” is reassuring. I have linode backups on half of them. 30 day S3 and personal rsync backups on the others and do not have to worry about my clients.

Here is my referral link.

Why I like Linode (after using others)

Why I like Linode (after using others)

When I started hosting websites for clients, I hosted them in-house, literally, in my house. This was nice because I had direct control over the servers and could quickly fix them or migrate data if there were hardware failures. But obviously, it does not scale very well when it comes to bandwidth, and if you need many servers, the power and cooling requirements can get out of hand.

GoDaddy

At the point when I felt my home setup was “obsolete”, I then took the plunge onto GoDaddy dedicated servers, 2 of them at the time. One was for websites and ran Windows 2003 Server with IIS. The other was a mail server and each had DNS running on them so I didn’t have to depend on/pay for a third-party DNS provider.

GoDaddy dedicated servers ended up being the biggest mistake I ever made.  They ran well for a while, but then a worm of some kind crawled around their internal network and came in through some backend they use to manage the servers.  I had everything well locked down, all Windows sharing turned off, including unneeded admin shares (C$, etc.) and had the firewall pretty tight. It took around 3 days to recover fully from the crash and even though the machines were virtually “destroyed”, I was fortunately able to FTP out all my customer data.

Crystaltech

I moved most of my ASP & .NET sites over to a Windows 2008 Server at CrystalTech. Including email (SmarterMail), which I love, but with the limited space on a Windows VPS, it is quickly filling up with email (people rarely delete things when using IMAP). I still use Crystaltech and they’ve been very stable, but their cost is quite a bit higher than other virtual solutions.

Slicehost

After the GoDaddy crash, all my PHP sites moved to virtual servers running Ubuntu with a standard LAMP stack. Apache got old real quick. It required constant tuning.  I explored many web servers to find one with better performance, at one time, I had three setup for ALL my virtualhosts where all I had to do was stop all the web daemons, change the config of the one I wanted to use to 80 and just start that one, bring up all my sites on a different daemon.  I finally settled on Cherokee and have NEVER looked back.

Slicehost, in my opinion, had HUGE potential at one time (pre-Rackspace buyout).  The support was phenomenal, everyone in the company was open and reachable. I many times talked to the founder via chat and email.  But all of that went down the drain with Rackspace and all Slicehost’s offerings and prices went stagnant.

I recently cancelled Slicehost completely after getting a hard to access domain, whose DNS was hosted with Slicehost, to change their nameservers to Linode’s.

Others

I’ve used a number of other minor providers from time to time that I won’t get too much into here. None of them seemed to be as “turnkey” as places like Linode and Slicehost when it came to the admin backend experience. They were either too complicated or did not even have some of the basics required for “full service” hosting.

Linode

Linode, so far (knock on wood), has been the best company I’ve ever done business with. Rock solid, great support at all hours, fast host servers, lots of datacenter locations, excellent control panel, iPhone app, etc. I can’t say enough to express my happiness with the service.

I currently host a number of VPS servers with them and have brought over a few clients onto their own server(s).  We host everything from test servers to full production and even PBXs. All runs perfectly.

It will be a sad day in VPS hosting land if Linode ever gets bought out by some mega hosting company like Rackspace.

To end this up, decentralization has been the best thing I have done and it is multi-faceted. I separated websites onto multiple, less expensive virtual servers, which prevent ALL my sites from going down when something happens to one of them. I’ve moved most of my clients to Google Apps for Domains, both business and standard, for email.

My uptime has dramatically improved, my customers are happier and that’s what matters.

What I think Apple Should Do…

Dear Steve Jobs,

I feel that with the “death” of the XServe Server and the uncertain future of Mac OS X Server OS, Apple should delve into offering hosted services to pull in entities who are now scattered among numerous other services such as Google Apps for Domains, commercial hosting, and numerous other third party hosted or self hosted apps, which require a lot of maintenance, multiple accounts, billing, etc.  Many of my IT associates who have switched to Apple laptops and desktops have commented to me that they hate still having to use non-apple apps to complete their daily business.

For example, the MobileMe interface already is an attractive and functional interface for email, contacts, calendar, iDisk, Photos and location services.  How much harder would it be to allow a company to signup and fully attach their own domain to the MobileMe framework.  Perhaps even create a separate enhanced version of MobileMe in their [Apple’s] newest “cloud” datacenter in North Carolina and, over time, have an ‘a la carte’ offering of additional new services that users need/request.  Maybe even allow developers to write custom Apps that can be cleanly integrated into the web interface and a matching app for the iOS device(s).

Keep the price reasonable, no more than $1-2/mo per user, which would be very attractive for small businesses, special pricing for larger corporations and perhaps discounts when Apple devices are purchased and attached to an account.  Perhaps 1 year for free when any iOS device is purchased to draw users in.

The advantages of this would be numerous, it would give small businesses and organizations a unified and complete “Apple Branded Experience” on their Mac PCs, iPhones, iPads, etc.  Almost everyone I know has a Apple device of some kind and many would prefer to use their own domain.  Apple does offer the capability of attaching a domain to your MobileMe webspace, but that does not extend to customization of the other services.

Also, with minor modifications to the existing MobileMe framework, it would bring a whole new potential residual revenue stream that millions of users could utilize.  It may also spur additional companies and users to buy Apple hardware knowing that all these services are so well intergrated. Adding similar features as Google Apps for Domains and improving upon them would make it a very attractive alternative.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do use and am VERY happy with Google Apps for Domains, but it would be nice to have some competition from another major player to keep things interesting.  Google does accomplish a lot of what I’ve stated in this email, but it’s not as “pretty”, well integrated and cost effective for those with many needs.

Perhaps Apple could even purchase a VoIP company and add that to their portfolio of services.  With an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and an old Mac Mini, it would be nice to get deep integration of all my communications needs while not being forced onto the @me.com domain.

I guess only time will tell how far Apple is willing to ascend into the cloud.

New Verizon Android Phone: Samsung Fascinate

Over the years, I have always swung back and forth between Microsoft, Apple, Linux, etc.   I get into Open Source moods, then realize there’s something I need on one the more ‘closed’ platforms of Microsoft or Apple and lean back towards those.  Because of that, I currently have machines running all three major OSes.  A PC Desktop running Windows 7, a Mac Mini (Intel) running the latest Mac OS X and my old Desktop running Linux (Ubuntu 10.04).

I’m sort of the same way with other devices, for phones and PDAs, I’ve used Palm (legacy and WebOS), Windows Mobile, Apple iOS (v. Original-4.x), Symbian, etc. But I had never taken the plunge into the newer Android OS.  Perhaps I figured it wasn’t as stable or mature as iOS and some of the others that have been around for a while.

This past week, my wife lost her phone, so she met me at the Verizon store on her way home.  I was there about 20 minutes earlier, so I was admiring the new Droid X, HTCs and the Samsung Fascinate.  When she arrived, I suggested that we try the Fascinate since there was a “buy one get one free” special, we’d get rid of the MiFi 2200 since they have the WiFi Hotspot feature for only $20/mo more, and we’d come out a bit ahead.  We were both Upgrade Eligible, so I did everything I could to sell her on it.

Now my wife is NOT really a techy person and since she already used her iPod touch as a PDA, I didn’t think she’d go for it, but she did.  I was amazed.   Now I’m the happy owner of a new Android phone.

My first impressions are good, it’s fast, has plenty of features and customization, a decent selection of apps, great hardware while still maintaining really good battery life and form factor.

Virtually everything I needed and had on my iPhone 3G plus more are now installed on my Fascinate and I only paid for one app (WebSharing).  The camera (5mp) is excellent, the video (up to 720 HD) is also very crisp with GREAT audio quality for a phone.  The screen is very bright and does a good job auto-adjusting based on the ambient light level.

The only minor con is that there is only a Bing search widget available.  There is no factory option to change it to Google Search.  This is just wrong in so many ways.  Other than that.  The Samsung skinning of the Android interface is a bit annoying, but since I’m a first time user, it’s not too bad, but I did like the interface better on the non-Touchwiz Droid phones.

My favorite feature so far is the Swype text input.  You just draw the word on the popup screen keyboard and it intelligently pulls out the words, even if they’re names or website addresses and so on.  It is very accurate and intuitive.  The Swype website has a bunch of nice tutorials for more advanced input options.

Now that I’ve had it for a few days, I am sort of disappointed I waited so long.  Perhaps it was a good thing to let some of the early bugs get worked out.

A few reasons why I will not be getting a 1st generation Apple iPad

I have never been as disappointed in Apple as I am with the new iPad.

Here’s why:

AT&T as the only carrier
AT&T SUCKS!  Need I say more?  Those Verizon commercials about AT&T are all 100% correct.  AT&T’s 3G coverage is sad, Verizon’s is amazing.  Until AT&T is gone, the only version I’ll ever get is the WiFi only and use my MiFi 2200 on Verizon for data on the move.

No front-facing camera
ALL of Apple’s computers and monitors come with webcams these days, even the iPhone has a camera in the back.  Why did they not do this? AT&T probably had some say in it, because they SUCK so badly, and wouldn’t be able to handle video conference over 3G.

No Multitasking
They touted this device as something “better” than a netbook, yet it cannot even multitask like a netbook.  ANY netbook is better than this device for this one simple feature.  This feature is “crucial” for a multi-function device like this for it to have any kind of usability outside of basic apps.

The iPhone’ish Operating System
I would’ve preferred something more of a hybrid between the iPhone OS and Mac OS X, I know that would’ve probably required more power and therefore shortened the battery life, but add only 1-2mm thickness and a lot more battery could fit in if shaped correctly.  Having a “fuller” OS probably would’ve solved the multitasking issue and would allow people to run more apps therefore making it that much more of a “usable” device.  Even with this robustness, it would most likely NOT cut into the Laptop market since it doesn’t have a mouse and sometimes you just need a mouse.

No Removable Memory Options
Apple should have simply created 2 versions, a WiFi Only and a WiFi+3G, have some onboard memory, maybe 16 or 32GB, then allow us to expand with it SD cards.  SD Cards are getting bigger all the time and would allow much greater flexibility for expansion.   Of course that would cut into Apple’s profit margins when they want everyone to buy the 128GB version coming out next year.

More Codecs
As much of a “media company” as Apple is, they still need to support the needs of the public as a whole.  Everyone, or at least most, has DiVX AVI or MKV movies that they’ve downloaded or gotten from friends.  It would be really nice if these videos could be natively viewed on this device.

Overall, complaints aside, it is still a nice device.  For the price, it’s still, in my opinion, a much better value than the Amazon Kindle line.  The Kindle is too “plain jane” and black and white while the iPad is the Kindle’s hot younger sister that still has some growing up to do. 🙂

I will watch the iPad over the next year or so and if they do make some of these improvements, especially the carrier, multitasking and front-facing camera, I’ll buy 2-3 for me, the kids, and around the house.