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How to fix: Can’t see Unicode (UTF8) in Notepad++ on Windows XP

This is a little late to help most people because they have moved on from Windows XP to newer flavors, however there are still some die-hards going to 2018 with the simple PosReady registry tweak.

If you have a full unicode font installed like Symbola on Windows XP, you may still not see proper characters in applications like Notepad++ and instead get double empty boxes in their place.
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phpinfo page for HHVM HipHop Virtual Machine

So you finally got HHVM 3.2 installed and running
and instinctively go to your phpinfo page to check it out…

but there nothing there, only “HipHop” …disappointing isn’t it?

So I whipped this up real quick as a phpinfo replacement:

HHVMinfo on github or direct download

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Suhosin comes back from the dead, bringing security to newest PHP versions

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While everyone has been distracted admiring PHP-NG, a great PHP project has quietly come back from the dead – Suhosin !

Suhosin is a well regarded security extension for PHP by Stefan Esser that had stopped getting updates after PHP 5.3. Perhaps it was due to more dramatic internal changes to the PHP core with 5.4 making it difficult to keep up. Linux distributions such as Debian that added Suhosin seeing its value, dropped it after updates stopped. Suhosin only worked up to PHP 5.3 – until now.

Suhosin can do neat tricks like disable EVAL and the regex /e modifier in PHP which the core of PHP cannot do by itself (or more accurately the core developers refuse to address). Suhosin also has many other options to help make PHP safer to use in a shared environment or where a server might be running a great deal of third-party code (ie. WordPress/plugins).
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How to build HHVM 3.6 on CentOS 7

2015 UPDATE: new wiki page for HHVM on CentOS7 with alternate instructions
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While building HHVM (HipHop Virtual Machine) for faster PHP on CentOS 6.x was pretty much a nightmare because almost none of third-party libraries are available from major repositories, the freshly released CentOS 7.0 solves most of this problem as it has far newer packages available from EPEL (because it has roots in more modern Fedora 19).

Note that unlike PHP/PHPNG, HHVM requires major resources to build. You may be used to making PHP in 15 minutes on a little old 256mb 1ghz box. You can forget that with HHVM which is a beast to compile. 1gb ram minimum and lots of cpu power required to keep it an hour or two (this is part of why PHP NG instead is so exciting because it will be so much easier to custom build).
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PHP NG within 10-25% of HHVM performance

Zeev Suraski (CTO of Zend and therefore an extremely qualified authority on PHP NG) has written a fascinating article comparing the performance of PHPNG against the current HHVM versions. A must read.

phpng-vs-hhvm

Perhaps even more importantly, he has written about the current state and future of PHP NG.
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PHP NG now nearly TWICE as fast as PHP 5.6

correction: php core developers have urged that it is improper to call this version “5.7” (despite the versioning file stating so)

PHP 5.7 PHP NG is still in alpha development, however it is starting to show breathtaking performance improvements over 5.6 while maintaining virtually complete compatibility.

Dmitry Stogov has been hard at work since his first announcement in mid-January 2014 and milestone update in early-May to keep folding in more and more ideas to increase PHP speed (with significant contributions by Xinchen Hui, Nikita Popov and others).

Six months later in mid-July, their efforts are really bearing fruit and PHP 5.7 NG is about to become nearly 100% faster than PHP 5.6 when rendering the front page of a stock WordPress 3.6 installation:

PHP 5.6, 1000 renderings of WP front page = 26.756 seconds

PHP NG,  1000 renderings of WP front page = 14.810 seconds

and he is not even done yet, based on all his proposals and notes as you can follow on http://wiki.php.net/phpng

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CentOS 7 to arrive in July with performance boost

Red Hat released RHEL 7 on June 10th which means the CentOS 7 community got to work, to prep their release based on the source. It is currently in “QA” release for review and will go to “GA” release (general availability) sometime in July.

The big news, at least for me, is performance improvements over CentOS 6.5
Red Hat claims 11% to 25% speed increase depending on workload:

Is that plausible from just an OS upgrade? Possibly, depending on better use of hardware and how much contention is going on. CentOS 7 will finally bring the linux 3.10 kernel to replace the 2.6.32 kernel in CentOS 6.5 – this means the elimination of the “big kernel lock” and better memory management.

7 will also bring the XFS filesystem as a default, alternative to EXT4. I am not sold on this change. I have seen a number of benchmarks that show EXT4 is faster in many cases, by a significant percent, over XFS (you can still use EXT4 of course). Apparently GRUB was also replaced with GRUB2 which is something I have to research and learn since it is critical for boot.

Want to read about all the new stuff for yourself?
Try the Red Hat release notes or save it for later in PDF format.

Initially there is no direct upgrade path for CentOS 6.5 to 7.
But they are discussing it and promise to explore after the GA release.

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