So, I’ve been using ownCloud for a while now as a convenient way to share certain files between all of my various devices. The server is a PHP application, so it’s pretty easy to set up.

Anyway, I updated my server to use PHP 7.3, in order to run the latest Known code, among other things. PHP 7.3 is the latest stable code, and so is what everyone should be running, really.

This presented a bit of a problem, as ownCloud would only run on PHP version up to and including 7.2! The next version of ownCloud will apparently support PHP 7.3, however release schedules are slow, and I really needed to get my syncing up and running again.

The obvious solution would be to run PHP 7.2 for the ownCloud server, and then PHP 7.3 for everything else.

Installing PHP-FPM

If you’re running the old school mod_php apache module, the first thing you need to do is install PHP-FPM.

I had been meaning to do this anyway, as this is essentially the modern way of running PHP. It’s faster, gives you many more options for performance, and crucially for my purposes, decouples Apache from PHP meaning you have the option of running multiple versions.

On Debian based servers (mine is Debian, with a third party PHP 7.3 apt repository set up), this turns out to be incredibly easy:

You’ll also want to install all the PHP modules you need (pdo, gd, etc), but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Next, you want to switch over your config:

Two things to note here. Firstly, replace the a2dismod statement with whatever php version you currently have installed. Secondly, you’ll notice I didn’t enable the PHP 7.2 FPM config. This is because I want PHP 7.3 to be the default for all sites, but to be able to selectively enable PHP 7.2 on selective virtual hosts.

Checking phpinfo() should now show you something like this:

Note the PHP version and the Server API.

If you look at your server processes, you’ll also see both PHP 7.3 and PHP 7.2 FPM servers running:

# ps aux | grep php
root      1437  0.0  0.2 601224 34420 ?        Ss   Sep14   0:03 php-fpm: master process (/etc/php/7.3/fpm/php-fpm.conf)
www-data  1936  0.2  0.7 685708 113000 ?       S    15:05   0:19 php-fpm: pool www
www-data  6650  0.2  0.7 688600 122332 ?       S    09:04   1:08 php-fpm: pool www
www-data  6657  0.2  0.7 687132 125016 ?       S    09:04   1:12 php-fpm: pool www
root      7658  0.0  0.2 591404 32916 ?        Ss   Sep14   0:03 php-fpm: master process (/etc/php/7.2/fpm/php-fpm.conf)
www-data 19281  0.1  0.3 673936 51792 ?        S    Sep14   2:16 php-fpm: pool www
www-data 19289  0.1  0.3 673836 49044 ?        S    Sep14   2:17 php-fpm: pool www
www-data 19290  0.1  0.3 673936 49760 ?        S    Sep14   2:18 php-fpm: pool www
root     21084  0.0  0.0 132340   924 pts/0    S+   17:01   0:00 grep php

Configuring ownCloud’s VirtualHost to use PHP 7.2

So, now you need to modify your ownCloud VirtualHost to use the PHP 7.2 fast CGI server.

Again, this is really really easy, and is pretty much a cut and paste from the php7.2-fpm.conf file you’ll find in your /etc/apache2/conf-available directory.

Place the following somewhere in your ownCloud virtual host definition:

<FilesMatch ".+\.ph(ar|p|tml)$">
SetHandler "proxy:unix:/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost"

Now, when you run a phpinfo() on your ownCloud domain, you should see it running PHP 7.2!

Now I can get back to syncing my files, while running the latest PHP version for other domains.

This is a useful feature, and obviously can be used to get more than just slow to update software up and running. For a start, this technique will let me run a bleeding edge version of PHP like PHP 7.4 against, for example, my development version of Known, but keep my blog running the stable release.

Anyway, I thought this was cool. Hopefully you’ll find it useful too!

Following on from my last post about saving Facebook tagged photos to ownCloud, here’s a plugin that addresses my Flickr favourites rule.

This plugin, when set up on IFTTT, will use exactly the same mechanism to save any public photos I tag as a favourite on Flickr to my owncloud folder.

Here’s my flickrfaves.php

For many reasons, not least of which their decision to appoint a surveillance loving war criminal to their board of directors, I’ve been steadily migrating away from Dropbox.

Thankfully, there is a drop-in replacement for much of it, providing you run your own server. So, I’ve got a syncing file store/backup running across my devices, which can be accessed while I’m on the go as well.

However, one of the things I do use dropbox for (which is not terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but which I find quite useful) is, via the use of an IFTTT rule, to take a copy of any photos I’m tagged in on Facebook, so that I can see them (and to break them out of the silo) without actually having to go onto Facebook. This is possible using dropbox, owing to it being a centralised service, but obviously isn’t possible using your own server.

Webhooks to the rescue!

So a little while ago I put together a hack that used IFTTT’s wordpress channel to add a pluggable webhooks interface to IFTTT.

Since this tool supports plugins, I was therefore able to write a simple Facebook adapter which, when triggered would extract the image URL from the push message and then simply download it.

Since my owncloud install was on the same server, all I had to do was output this file to the appropriate owncloud data directory and any files retrieved are automatically synced to your client devices. You can of course opt to write to any directory, and not use owncloud at all, but since I wanted a like for like replacement for IFTTT+Dropbox I went for owncloud server storage!

Here’s the facebookphoto.php plugin code:

Simple, and obviously you could extend this to do other things with it.

Place the code in your plugins directory, and create a new recipe on ifttt triggering your plugin whenever you’re tagged on Facebook, remembering to pass plugin:FacebookPhoto as your category.

» Visit the Ifttt webhook project on github...