Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lessons From PHP 4.4 End-of-Life Announcement

The developers of PHP announced last week that PHP version 4.4.9 is now available. This would not be remarkable in and of itself, except that the developers also indicated that this would be the last release of PHP 4.4.

If PHP were commercial software, its "end of life" would be cause for panic in some quarters. After all, companies don't often like to change software that is crucial to their infrastructure, and having the end of life imposed on them often causes trouble. For example, Windows XP reached its official end of life more than 1 month ago, meaning that Microsoft will no longer offer updates, bug fixes, and security patches for the operating system. Never mind that many people prefer XP to Vista; Microsoft has spoken, and no further updates will be made available.

The end of life of an open-source project works differently, of course. It does mean that the official development group will no longer spend time and energy fixing bugs in these old versions. But that's where the similarities between proprietary and open-source software ends: If the open-source software fails to work correctly, you (as the end user) always have the option to patch it, bringing it up to date by examining the software updates that came out for newer versions. Indeed, there's nothing stopping you from keeping a supposedly obsolete open-source project going forever, if you have enough time and energy.

Read more here: Lessons From PHP 4.4 End-of-Life Announcement | OStatic