For more than a decade, PHP developers have had little choice in where they
actually get the latest version of PHP: either PHP.net or as a package from a Linux distribution.
Zend, the commercial backer of PHP, is now offering another choice.
Zend Core 2.0, the first Zend Core release for the
broader PHP community, is a PHP distribution that benefits from additional testing, bundled features, applications and support that also includes an update service. And though it extends PHP in a number of ways, it’s still open source.
“Zend Core is our version of PHP; it’s a PHP distribution and it’s best to
look at it as related to PHP as how Red Hat Linux is related to Linux,” Mark
de Visser, Zend chief marketing officer, told internetnews.com .
“Yes you can get these things yourself from the various open source sources, but it’s more convenient and there are benefits to get it from Zend where we
assemble the whole stack for you.”
Zend Core 2.0 includes the latest PHP 5.2.1 version, which benefits from the
joint work between Zend and Microsoft to improve PHP on Microsoft Windows. PHP
5.2.1 was officially released by the PHP.net open source community on
Zend had previously offered versions of Zend Core specifically
for Oracle and IBM DB2.
Additionally Zend Core 2.0 includes MySQL 5.0, which makes PHP-enabling the
open source database easier than if PHP and MySQL were to be installed
Zend is now marketing the database support in Zend Core 2.0 as
“Universal Database Support,” with certified drivers for MySQL, Oracle and
De Visser admitted, however, that thought they’ve branded the
feature as “universal,” Zend Core 2.0 does not include support for the
PostgreSQL open source database. The Zend Framework, which is a framework for rolling out PHP applications, is also included in Zend Core 2.0. Even though the framework has not yet hit its 1.0 release, De Visser noted that it is maturing rapidly and is already being used for production deployments.
One of the greatest risks facing PHP is out-of-date versions that don’t
include the latest security update. Zend is taking aim at that risk by
including an updater with Zend Core 2.0, so users will receive updates for
their PHP components when they’re available.
“Zend Core for us is an important product because it is the best insurance
people can have to stay current,” De Visser explained. “Not only does it
implement all the best packages that you can assemble, but with the updater
mechanism, Zend Core keeps you current even if more exploits become known and
fixed in the community.”
Timing of the Zend Core release comes as former PHP.net community member
Stefan Esser has launched the Month of PHP Bugs in which he is disclosing at
least one PHP bug for every day in the month of march. De Visser is taking
the bug threat seriously and is confident that both the PHP community and
Zend are responding accordingly.
“It is the open source model at work,” De Visser said. “We are working hard
to address any and all issues, and with the 5.2.1 release all that could be
done for the bugs that are likely to be reported are covered.”