Getting Started

ID #1019

What do I need to know about the Debian 6 environment introduced in April 2011?

Applies to: Grid System

Modwest introduced a Debian 6 hosting environment in April 2011. It is the default for all new accounts. But, accounts that were created before April 2011 will need to manually switch to that new platform. Learn everything you want to know about the process here in this article.

Upgrading is important! Many applications, such as WordpressDrupalJoomlaMovable Type and Interspire products, require an up-to-date platform to function. Additionally, we will regularly apply any security and bug patches to the new environment, whereas older environments will receive no further updates.

Before Switching

  • If you are using Ruby on Rails, do not switch. The new environment is not prepared for RoR.
  • Although most accounts switch seamlessly, be prepared to update applications and configurations for any incompatibilities that occur.  Pay particular attention to PHP errors if you have a custom /conf/php.ini.

How to Switch

There is an interface in OnSite that will allow you to select which hosting environment you desire.  

Common Questions

What is different?

All the software we provide is newer. In particular, these common scripting languages:

  • PHP 5.3.x ( We will provide near the newest 5.3 version available. )
  • Perl 5.10.1
  • Python 2.6

And these other frequently-used packages:

  • ImageMagick 6.6.0

You can get a good idea of the new programming environment by looking at our PHP InfoPEAR Info, and Perl Modules

Is there downtime involved when switching environments?

Generally, no. Most hosting accounts will switch over without any downtime. If you have some applications which are not the latest version, they may break and require you to update. We recommend that you update all of your third-party applications to the newest version available before switching environments. 

How long does the switch take?

The operation takes about 5 minutes, although your site will remain available during this time. 

It looks like my applications are not working and need much work to be compatible with the new platform. Can I switch back?

Yes, you can, although we recommend working through the errors, for the old environment is deprecated. Switching back takes the same length of time as the initial transition. 

Will my files or directory tree change?

No. Any files that you have uploaded will remain the same. 

I am using one of your experimental versions of PHP, will this be a problem?

No, when you switch, there will be only one version of PHP available. Your scripts will automatically use that version. 

I am using PHP4 still, and I've made a lot of configuration customizations in my /conf/php.ini. Will they work in the new environment?

PHP's configuration options have changed, in some places drastically, from php4 to php5. It may just be easier to copy /etc/php5/php.ini to /conf/php.ini and modify it as you see fit. 

Are all the same software in the new environment?

Mostly. We've worked hard to make sure that all the major programs you need are in the new environment, like PHP, Perl, and their extensions. However, there are thousands of other utilities potentially used that we may have missed. If you require software that we do not have, let us know, and we can install most anything for you. 

Do my shell, FTP, mailbox, or database credentials change?

No. All of your users will remain untouched by the transition.

Typical Adjustments

If you have any custom PHP code, you should review's migration appendices:

Those in a hurry may find this summary list of PHP changes more helpful:

  • PHP5's object oriented syntax is greatly changed from PHP4. You can make PHP4 act more like PHP5 in this case with the configuration directive, zend.ze1-compatibility-mode
  • Some extensions, like pfpro are no longer available in PHP5.
  • register_globals is off by default.
  • mnogosearch does not work in the new environment.
  • Zend Optimizer is now called Zend Guard Loader, and one loads it like this: ??zend_extension=/usr/lib/php5/20090626/
  • PHP ereg functions are deprecated and should be replaced with their preg counterparts.
  • PHP 5.3 supports an .htaccess-style configuration file.

Last update: 2011-12-21 16:55
Author: Thomas Connell
Revision: 1.3

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