Sunday, December 30, 2007

And They Wonder Why Linux is so Appealing?

I got all excited to see if my PHP web apps would port over to Windows Server 2008 running on IIS7 outfitted with FastCGI. It sure sounded promising. I downloaded PHP 5.2.5 for Windows. I downloaded the QDIG PHP web app also. Followed the instructions here to the letter.

Then I tried it. And I tried it again. And again. And one more time. Then once more after that. Each on a different WS08 virtual machine, clean setup. I ran through a ba-zillion troubleshooting and diagnostic tips and suggestions and none of them were successful.

Here's all I could manage to produce...

I created a vanilla Ubuntu 7.10 web server, with Apache and PHP and copied in my "helloworld.php" and it just works. None of this stupid configuration crap.

So, maybe you're reading this from the comfortable office of your ASP.NET development empire and scoffing at this with some smirky comment like "It's Windows dumbass, nobody uses PHP on Windows". Exactly my point. Then you might follow up with "Everybody uses ASP or ASP.NET anyway", and I would fall out of my chair and wet myself laughing.

I have developed ASP and ASP.NET web apps for almost 10 years. I only recently embarked on learning LAMP (aka Linux+Apache+MySQL+PHP) and have found it to be not only extremely powerful and productive, but FUN. Yes. Fun! I forgot how fun it was to write code and make things happen. So much of the crap layered on IDE products to enforce CMMI processes, change management, workflows, team-centered collaboration, yada yada yada, has bled the fun out of web development to the point where it's become a dreaded chore in most cases.

I know I'm not alone. I have had discussions with so many developers that complain that the individual programmer role has been lost in the shuffle. Everything is assuming we're all building the next eBay. A thousand faceless coders with identical face piercings and tatoos, drinking the same over-caffeinated beverage and bouncing our heads to whatever is blasting in our ears from our iPods or whatever.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE what Microsoft has done with Windows Server 2008. It is truly a wonderful product. It just makes sense. Everywhere you poke around inside of it, you will nod in satisfaction that they finally got it right (or at least, pretty damn close).

So I figured I might be able to bring the joy I've found with PHP on Linux back to the Windows world and marry the best of both worlds. Sort of like match-making your best friends and watching them get married; sitting back with a smile at having made something good happen for a change. Not so. Not yet anyway. I put the two of them in a room, dimmed the light, put on some Barry White music and handed them each a stiff drink. The result was a nasty error message and complete failure.

The fun is out there still. I will find it.
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