Classification regarding the EOL of PHP 7.4

October 20, 2022

Classification regarding the EOL of PHP 7.4

In the past few weeks, we have noticed increasingly irritations with Kopano users regarding the End of Life from PHP 7.4 on the 28th of November, which has been anounced by the PHP developers (PHP Group) here, and were often asked what effect this has on the operation of Kopano Groupware.

For us this type of question reoccurs alongside the life cycle of PHP. Therefore, we want to go into this in more detail below.

The good news in advance: The dismissal of PHP 7.4 by the upstream developers has no direct influence on Kopano Groupware.

Why and for whom is this important?

PHP is a key technology component, which is used in many applications – and so does Kopano Groupware. Therefore, this topic is relevant not just for Kopano users, it extends far beyond.

Which PHP version is used by Kopano Groupware?

Kopano Groupware uses the PHP version shipped with a Linux distribution. The current version of Kopano Groupware relies on PHP 7.4 on supported platforms. It is not necessary to create your own PHP packages for operation.

For how long are these PHP versions going to be supplied with updates / security fixes?

Unlike the life cycle according to upstream developers (approximately three years), the maintenance of a specific PHP version of a Linux distribution takes places significantly longer. Among enterprise distributions time frames of five to ten years are quite common. Long-term care is often part of the business model and clearly exceeds the life cycle among upstream developers.

In order to implement this, various methods are used, including a procedure described in software development as backporting. In this way, identified problems, or their associated patches, are adapted and provided from higher versions to match the PHP version provided by the distribution. The exact procedure of the individual security teams or maintainers from such components may differ in detail.

It is important to understand that there is often a regular process in the context of a distribution, which makes it possible to securely use a certain software component over several years – even if the upstream developers are already devoting themselves to new ideas and functions in a higher version. This model has been working very successfully (not only in terms of PHP) for several decades.

Which influence does Kopano have on the provided PHP version?

PHP is neither being developed by Kopano, nor does Kopano work for a specific Linux distribution. Kopano is – just like all customers – a user and not a provider of the technology.

Which relation exists between the current Kopano Groupware, PHP and the support provided by Kopano?

Subscription customers are encouraged to always use the latest version of Kopano Groupware, so occurring problems can be identified faster and already fixed problems can be avoided.

In order to be able to use specific functions within Kopano Groupware a minimum required version of specific components (like PHP) is required. PHP is a language of which properties and conventions are particularly to be distinguished between so called major releases (e.g. 5.x, 7.x and 8.x). Kopano Groupware currently relies on version 7.x (concretely 7.4) and is not compatible with PHP 8.x or even 5.x and older – even if the version number may be larger than the minimum requirement.

Since (as described above) the components, which are made available by Linux distributions, are being used, this naturally means that operation of the latest Kopano Groupware version is only possible on the systems that can just ensure that minimum requirement.

What is to be done?

If a current version of Kopano Groupware is operated, it is obvious that the PHP version used, even beyond the announced end of the upstream developers, will continue to be supplied with updates by the Linux distribution. In this case we see no immediate need for action.

To those who still use an older version of Kopano Groupware it is advisable to inform themselves about the support status of the PHP version of the Linux distribution being used and, if necessary, to consider an update to a more recent version of Kopano Groupware.

Conclusion / TL;DR

The dismissal of PHP 7.4 by the upstream developers has no direct influence on Kopano Groupware.

The decisive factor is the support cycle of the Linux distribution chosen for the operation of Kopano Groupware, since the developers / maintainers of the operating system take care of the maintenance of the component up to its end of life.

Regardless of this, it is advisable to operate both the latest Kopano Groupware version and compatible Linux distribution up to date in order to ensure safe operation over several years.

Credit: PHP Logo by Colin Viebrock, publised under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license on the PHP website