Get Your PHP on IBM i, Hold the Zend
December 11, 2019 Alex Woodie
PHP was one of the first open source technologies to make an impact on the IBM i server. But due to the arrangement that IBM made with Zend, the PHP technology has been tied to a specific software distribution controlled by Zend. But now, IBM i shops that want to use PHP but don’t want to pay for the Zend Server distribution after the first free year of support is up now have a free option available – and it’s from the Zend folks themselves, no less.
On December 2, the folks at Zend posted a repository for Community PHP to its website. Community PHP is a free version of PHP for IBM i that, as its name suggests, is supported by the community. The open source software is delivered to IBM i via RPM and Yum, which is now the preferred format for distributing open source tooling on IBM i.
According to a Twitter message from Erwin Earley, a senior solutions consultant for Zend at Perforce Software, the Community PHP version for IBM i supports PHP version 7.3.11, and the plan calls for the community to support versions 7.3.12 and 7.4.
Early wrote a blog post last month in which he described the release and outlined some of the reasons why the company decided to release a community version of PHP for IBM i.
“Community or free PHP is the version of the web scripting language that the community maintains,” Earley wrote. “It is independent of any commercial products. And until this year, community PHP for IBM i was not available.”
Earley stressed that the community edition lacks much of the functionality that’s included in the Zend Server editions, including Zend Server Professional and Zend Server Enterprise. That includes functions like the Z-Ray code-tracing function, the XML Toolkit, a variety of PHP extensions, and certifications.
But depending on what IBM i developers are doing, those items may not be a big deal. The new community distribution could be a good option for those IBM i professionals who took advantage of the free year of support for Zend Server that every IBM i customer is entitled to, but now are hesitating at laying down cash for support from Perforce, which acquired Rogue Wave earlier this year. (Rogue Wave, of course, acquired Zend back in 2016.)
“You may wonder why community PHP is being delivered to the IBM i platform?” Earley writes. “Simply put, making community PHP for IBM i available supports the increasing use of open source solutions and the rpm/yum ecosystem on the IBM i platform — that started with the release of 5733-OPS (end-of-life announced) and took off with the release of the RPM bootstrap-support in May of 2018.”
As the world of open source continues to expand, it’s having an ever-greater impact on IBM i. Having a free version of PHP that’s not tied to any particular support packages and is delivered via RPM and Yum is a great step that’s in-line with IBM’s stated goal of making open source pervasive and easy to use on IBM i.