PHP 7 is now out, and Travis-CI supports it as part of their standard configuration (rather than forcing you to use the PHP nightly build). Last night I submitted a pull request to add PHP 7 support to the Known Travis build, which was a little bit problematic.

Known uses Apache + PHP-FPM, rather than the Travis default nginx setup, and while there are guides for getting this working on the Travis site, it seems that they’re not quite there for the PHP 7 build.

The PHP 7 build was running into this error:

This took a little while to diagnose, but in the end the fix was pretty simple. Basically it looks like the Travis PHP7 build of PHP-FPM expects, but can not find, a pool definition. You don’t need to customise it, just put a default one into PHP-FPM’s config directory.

So, I packaged a default template with the Known patch, and in my .travis.yml added the following to before_script:

I also modified the Apache vhost example and added ServerName localhost to the definition (although this might not be needed).

After this, the build completes successfully.

PHP7 is new, so I suspect Travis will fix this shortly. However, hopefully this will prevent some hair-pulling in the mean time!


I recently upgraded my webserver to Debian Jessie, which included an upgrade for Apache and PHP. This resulted in a few gotchas…

Mod_python and WSGI don’t play nicely

See my previous post on the subject…

Some PHP extensions not installed

Some PHP extensions didn’t seem to be automatically upgraded/reinstalled (these may have been ones previously only available through PECL), so:

New permissions

Apache 2.4 uses a different permissions (access / deny) arrangement than before, so you need to change these over.

So for example, where you have:

You’d now have:

Apache have a good guide here.

Random crashes with XCache

If you have XCache installed, you might start getting random crashes, often with an error about:

PHP Fatal error: Cannot redeclare class ...

This is caused because the installer installs and activates the Zend Opcache module automatically, and you can’t run two opcode caches safely.


Anyone who has done any development with PHP will be familiar with the infamous White Screen of Death; a blank browser window indicating that something horrible has gone wrong. A common cause, for me at least, is making a method call on a null object – easy to do in an object oriented architecture.

The exact reason as to why your script has gone splat will be reported in the log file, but from a UX standpoint, giving a blank screen to your customers is far from ideal. It is particularly problematic in complicated platforms like Elgg and Known, which use output buffering and have a plugin architecture.

Here’s a quick bit of code which can catch many (all?) of these fatal errors, and at least echo something. A variation of this is already in Known. Place the code somewhere towards the start of your script…

Hope this is useful to you!