Michael A. Peters wrote:
Robert Cummings wrote:
Michael A. Peters wrote:
And how do you propose people get around open_basedir restrictions which
is common in many Plesk environments?
Manuel Aude wrote:
I'm giving a PHP course next semester (3 hours all saturdays for 22
and I just realized that PHP 5.3 is coming very soon (2 days now!).
plans of teaching PHP 5.2 are starting to change, and I think it's a
idea to teach them 5.3 already.
While the majority of the students use Windows, I'm aware that a vast
will be using Ubuntu/Debian (and some use Gentoo, Fedora and Arch)
distributions of Linux, so I'm hoping there won't be too many
installation. I don't want to waste the entire first class fixing
installation problems, because that kills the student's motivation.
The course starts on August, but I'm preparing it during the last two
of July. You think that installation packages will be bulletproof by
Or should I just teach 5.2 and wait for another semester before
5.3? I mean, most hosts will remain with PHP 5.2 for the rest of the
so I'm a bit confused on what I should do.
I'm just a university student that wants to spread PHP, for I've been
it for many years now =)
Thanks for the advices,
Many hosts are still on php 5.1.x (IE RHEL based hosts).
I would be worried that many popular classes and apps might be quirky
I've not played with it at all, and probably won't for some time, but
I've been bitten by that more than once.
Nice thing about 5.2.x as far as linux goes anyway, installing it is
cake from the package repositories. Using package repositories for php
installs is suggested as security fixes can be updated with ease.
As someone running a newer version of php (5.2.9) than what my distro
ships with, here are some of the issues:
A) I needed to create packages so that I could RPM install various
stuff, like Squirelmail, etc. - and get the security updates for them
from my OS vendor (CentOS or EPEL repods). So to do that, I used the
B) When building php rpm's on my system, the %check portion of the
spec file (runs make test I believe) fails sometimes if there is an
existing php install. To solve that, you have to build it in mock.
C) Mock needs a lot of disk space and will download a lot of packages,
if you don't local mirror the update repositories, it can be really
time consuming. Furthermore, occasionally the build list for mock is
broken making it un-usable for package building.
I have to use 5.2.x because I need a pecl extension that does not work
with 5.1.x - and building rpm myself lets me add suhosin patch (to the
fedora spec file) but unless your Linux students want to do absolutely
everything php by source and not have anything installed from the
package managers that rely on php, I would highly suggest that they
use whatever version of php their distro of choice has in its stable
Since you are teaching students, one pet peeve of mine that I see in
web app after web app after web app - they have an admin interface
that writes a php file which the app then parses as php. Often they
even instruct the person installing the web app to have 777
permissions of directories and/or files within the web root.
There's a better way. Either store the configuration settings in a
database (obviously can't store database connection setting in the
database ...) or store them in an xml file, not php.
You can write and read the xml file with any number of existing php
functions. And the config file should not be in the web root, nothing
the web server can write to should be in the document root.
Applications (like Gallery and I think joomla and wordpress) often
want write permission to the document root so they can have a web
interface to install/update their modules - but it creates a security
risk. It's better to install the modules you want from a distro vendor
repository so you can keep them up to date that way, and hence, it's
better to use a packaged php install so that the dependencies are met.
Sorry for rambling, but the trend of web server having write
permissions to files the web server then executes (and often in the
web root) is a trend that needs to stop. So flunk the students that do
There is nothing wrong with having the above mentioned write access if
it is properly protected.
Nothing wrong other than any vulnerability in apache (or a module apache
loads or cgi/server script code) that allows a malicious user to write
data as the apache user can now do so inside the web root where they can
then request it causing php/perl/python/whatever to execute the code
they just wrote.
This is fear mongering. I could make the same argument that making use
of a webserver opens you up to any vulnerability in the webserver that
may provide access to the entire filesystem. The intended purpose of the
webserver is not to allow such access when configured properly, and so
it is an exceptional circumstance when such security is compromised. It
is common practice to use .htaccess to lock off sensitive areas of a
website such as where any writeable documents live. if you set
permissions appropriately on the filesystem then the web process should
only be able to read those areas where you don't want it to write.
Writeable and executable permissions may pose a special problem, but one
can merely enable the rights when updating the modules and revoke them
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