About a month ago I wrote about how cool was to migrate to HHVM on OpenShift. Custom cartridge for Nginx + HHVM and MariaDB was running fast and I was really excited about the new stack. I was landing on a new, beautiful world.

About a week later I faced some problems because of disk space. Files took only 560MB over 1GB but OpenShift shell gave me an error for 100% disk usage (and a nice blank page on the home because cache couldn’t be written). I wasn’t able to understand why it was giving me that error. It probably depends on log files written by custom cartridge in other position inside of the filesystem. No idea. Anyway I had no time to go deeper so I bought 1 more GB of storage.

The day after I bought the storage blog speed goes down. It was almost impossible to open the blog and CloudFlare gives me timeout for half of the requests. Blog visits started to fall and I have no idea about how to fix that. Some weeks later I discover some troubles with My Corderwall Badges and Simple Sharer Button Adder but, in the OpenShift environment, I had no external caching system useful to handle this kind of problems.

I didn’t want to come back to MySQL and Apache but also trash all my articles wasn’t fun so I choose something I rejected 3 years ago: I took a standalone server.


First choice was Scaleway. It’s trendy and is BareMetal. 3.5€ for a 4 core ARM (very hipster choice), 2 GB RAM, 50 GB SSD server. New interface is cool, better then Linode and Digital Ocean, server and resources are managed easily. Unfortunately HHVM is still experimental on ARM and SSD are on SAN, and they aren’t so fast (100MB/s).

Next choice was OVH. New 2016 VPS SSD (available in Canadian datacenters) are cheap enough (3.5$) and offer a virtual core Xeon with 2 GB RAM and 10 GB SSD. Multicore performances are lower and you have a lot of less storage but is an X86-64 architecture and SSD is faster (250 MB/s). I took this one!

Unfortunately my preferences aren’t changed since my first post. I’m still a developer, not a sysadmin. I’m not a master in Linux configuration and my stack has several running parts and my blog was still unavailable. My beautiful migration on cutting edge technologies became an emergency landing.

Luckily I found several online tutorial which explain how to master the WordPress stack. In the next days I completed the migration and my new stack now runs on: Pound, Varnish, Nginx, HHVM, PHP-FPM and MariaDB. I hope to have enough time in the coming days to publish all the useful stuff I used for configuration.

For the moment I’m proud to share average response time of the home page: 342ms 🙂


Everything started on Heroku in October 2012 over their dynos with Heroku Postgres and continued on OpenShift in August 2013 over a LAMP stack based on Apache 2.4, PHP 5.3 and MySQL 5.1.

Now it’s time to to move my little blog on a modern stack. Best offer on OpenShift is a variation of the standard LEMP (we can call it: LEMP-HH) stack with HHVM 3.8, MariaDB 5.5 over NGINX 1.7.


Actually biggest performances improvement was achieved adding a good cache plugin a few months ago. I always used W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache but, in this specific case, they are both complex to use because of the structure of OpenShift stack. Best solution I found is WP Fastest Cache plugin, one of the latest cache plugin I tested. Here is the stunning header of their website showing two beautiful cheetahs (are they cheetahs?).


Anyway coming back on new stack, there is no official bundle yet but you can create a new application using tengyifei’s HHVM 3.8 cartridge and adding OpenShift MariaDB 5.5 cartridge. I wasn’t able to run them on different gears (with scaling option activated and HAProxy) but seems fast enough on a single gear.

Filesystem structure is similar to the standard PHP bundle except for the application dir that is named www/ instead of php/. I used last backup from UpdraftPlus to migrate database on MariaDB. On non scalable applications you need to forward port in order to access DB from your local machine. RHC command is:

rhc port-forward -a application-name

Source here: Getting Started with Port Forwarding on OpenShift

Moving on NGINX also causes problems on permalinks because .htaccess doesn’t work anymore. The Nginx Helper plugin fix the problem but you could simply add a couple of row to NGINX configuration located in /config/nginx.d/default.conf.erb.

# Handle any other URI
location / {
try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?q=$request_uri;

Discussion on WordPress support forum: WordPress Permalinks on NGINX

Refactor of previous filesystem, migration of database and bugfix of permalinks and other stuff takes about 2 hours and, at the end, everything seems working fine. I’m quite confident this a future proof solution but I’m going to test it until next major update 🙂

[UPDATE 2015-09-06 21:56 CEST]

After migration sitemap_index.xml and robots.txt weren’t reachable. Some rules were missing. I took the opportunity to switch to Yoast SEO for sitemap, Facebook open graph and Twitter cards. Then, these rules fix problems with SEO.

# Rewrites for WordPress SEO XML Sitemap
rewrite ^/sitemap_index.xml$ /index.php?sitemap=1 last;
rewrite ^/([^/]+?)-sitemap([0-9]+)?.xml$ /index.php?sitemap=$1&sitemap_n=$2 last;
# Rewrites for robots.txt
rewrite ^/robots\.txt$ /index.php?robots=1 last;

I always like The Setup. Discover what kind of technologies, hardware and softwares other skilled people are using is extremely useful and really fun for me. This time I’d like to share some tips from the complete reboot I did to my personal ecosystem after switch to my new Macbook.


From the hardware side is a simple high-end 2015 Macbook Pro 13″ Retina with Intel Core i7 Haswell dual-core at 3,4GHz, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD PCI Express 3.0. Is fast, solid, lightweight and flexible. The only required accessory is the Be.eZ LArobe Second Skin.

From the software side I decided to avoid Time Machine restore in order to setup a completely new environment. I started on a OS X 10.10 Yosemite fresh installation.

As polyglot developer I usually deal with a lot of different applications, programming languages and tools. In order to decide what top install, a list of what I had on the previous machine and what I need more was really useful.

Here is a list of useful software and some tips about the installation process.



Paid softwares worth having: Evernote (with Premium subscription and Skitch) and Todoist (with Premium subscription) both available on the Mac App Store. 1Password, Fantastical 2, OmniGraffle, Carbon Copy Cloner, Backblaze and Expandrive available on their own websites.

Free software worth having: Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox as browser, Apache OpenOffice, Skype and Slack as chat, VLC for multimedia and Transmission for torrents.


Suites or part of: Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Illustrator CC and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Microsoft Word 2016, and Microsoft Excel 2016 are part of Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac (now in free preview). Apple Pages, and Apple Keynote are preinstalled as Apple iWork suite as well as Apple Calendar and Apple Contacts.

Development tools

Utilities for Power Users: Caffeine, Growl and HardwareGrowler, iStat Menu Pro, Disk Inventory X, Tor Browser and TrueCrypt 7.1a (you need to fix a little installation bug on OS X 10.10), Kinematic and Boot2Docker for Docker, Sublime Text 3 (with some additions like: Spacegray Theme, Soda Theme, a new icon, Source Code Pro font), Tower, Visual Studio Code, Android SDK (for Android emulator) and XCode (for iOS emulator), VirtualBox (with some useful Linux virtual images), iTerm 2.

CLI: OhMyZSH, Homebrew, GPG (installed using brew), XCode Command Line Tools (from Apple Developers website), Git (with git-flow installed using brew), AWS CLI (install via pip), PhantomJS, s3cmd and faster s4cmd, Heroku toolbelt and Openshift Client Tools (install via gem).


Servers: MariaDB 10.0 (brew), MongoDB 3.0 (brew), Redis 3.0 (brew), Elasticsearch 1.6 (brew), Nginx 1.8.0 (brew), PostgreSQL 9.4.2 (via Postgres.app), Hadoop 2.7.0 (brew), Spark 1.4 (download from official website), Neo4j 2.2 (brew), Accumulo 1.7.0 (download from official website), Crate 0.49 (download from official website), Mesos 0.22 (download from official website), Riak 2.1.1 (brew), Storm 0.9.5 (download from official website), Zookeeper 3.4.6 (brew), Sphinx 2.2 (brew), Cassandra 2.1.5 (brew).


Programming languages: RVM, Ruby (MRI 2.2, 2.1, 2.0, 1.9.3, 1.8.7, REE 2012.02, JRuby 1.7.19 installed using RVM), PHP 5.6 with PHP-FPM (installed using brew), HHVM 3.7.2 (installed using brew with adding additional repo, has some issues on 10.10), Python 2.7 (brew python) and Python 3.4 (brew python3), Pip 7.1 (shipped with Python), NVM, Node.js 0.12 and IO.js 2.3 (both installed using NVM), Go 1.4.2 (from Golang website), Java 8 JVM (from Oracle website), Java 8 SE JDK (from Oracle website), Scala 2.11 (from Scala website), Clojure 1.6 (from Clojure website), Erlang 17.0 (brew), Haskell GHC 7.10 (brew), Haskell Cabal 1.22 (brew), OCaml 4.02.1 (brew), R 3.2.1 (from R for Mac OS X website), .NET Core and ASP.NET (brew using DNVM), GPU Ocelot (compiled with a lot of libraries).

Full reboot takes about 2 days. Some software are still missing but I was able to restart my work almost completely. I hope this list would be helpful for anyone 🙂

bedrock_big_logo During the last couple of weeks I had to work on a PHP project with a custom WordPress stack I have never used before: Bedrock.

The home page says “Bedrock is a modern WordPress stack that gets you started with the best development tools, practices, and project structure.“.

What Bedrock really is

It is a regular WordPress installation with a different folder structure and is integrated with composer for dependencies management and capistrano for deploy. The structure reminds Rails or similar frameworks but contains usual WordPress component and run on the same web stack.

├── composer.json
├── config
│   ├── application.php
│   └── environments
│       ├── development.php
│       ├── staging.php
│       └── production.php
├── vendor
└── web
├── app
│   ├── mu-plugins
│   ├── plugins
│   ├── themes
│   └── uploads
├── wp-config.php
├── index.php
└── wp

Server configuration

The project use to works on Apache with mod_php but I personally don’t like this stack. I’d like to test it on HHVM but at the moment I preferred to run it on nginx with PHP-FPM. Starting with an empty Ubuntu 14.04 installation I set up a LEMP stack with memcached and Redis using apt-get:

apt-get update
apt-get install build-essential tcl8.5 curl screen bootchart git mailutils munin-node vim nmap tcpdump nginx mysql-server mysql-client memcached redis-server php5-fpm php5-curl php5-mysql php5-mcrypt php5-memcache php5-redis php5-gd

Everything works fine except the Redis extension (used for custom function unrelated with WordPress). I don’t know why but the config file wasn’t copied into the configuration directory /etc/php5/fpm/conf.d/. You can find it among the available mods into /etc/php5/mods-available/.

PHP-FPM uses a standard configuration placed into /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/example.conf. It listen on or unix socket in /var/run/php5-fpm-example.sock (I assume the configured name was “example”).

Memcached should be configured to be used for session sharing among multiple servers. To activate it you need to edit the php.ini configuration file setting the following parameters into /etc/php5/fpm/php.ini

session.save_handler = memcache
session.save_path = 'tcp://,tcp://'

nginx configuration is placed into /etc/nginx/sites-available/ and linked into /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/ as usual and forward request to PHP-FPM for PHP files.

server {
listen 80 default deferred;
root /var/www/example/htdocs/current/web/;
index index.html index.htm index.php;
server_name www.example.com;
access_log /var/www/example/logs/access.log;
error_log /var/www/example/logs/error.log;
location / {
try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?q=$uri&$args;
location ~\.php$ {
try_files $uri =404;
# fastcgi_pass;
fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm-example.sock;
fastcgi_index index.php;
fastcgi_buffers 16 16k;
fastcgi_buffer_size 32k;
include fastcgi_params;
location ~ /\.ht {
deny all;

Root directory will be web/ of Bedrock prefixed with current/ to support the capistrano directory structure displayed below.

├── current -> /var/www/example/htdocs/releases/20150120114500/
├── releases
│   ├── 20150080072500
│   ├── 20150090083000
│   ├── 20150100093500
│   ├── 20150110104000
│   └── 20150120114500
├── repo
│   └── <VCS related data>
├── revisions.log
└── shared
└── <linked_files and linked_dirs>

Local configuration

I’m quite familiar with capistrano because of my Ruby recent background. You need a Ruby version greater then 1.9.3 to run it (RVM helps). First step is to download dependencies. Ruby uses Bundler.

# run it to install bundler gem the first time
gem install bundler
# run it to install dependencies
bundle install

Bundler read the Gemfile (and Gemfile.lock) and download all the required gems (Ruby libraries).

Now the technological stack is ready locally and on server 🙂
I’ll probably describe how to run a LEMP stack on OS X in a next post. For the moment I’m assuming you are able to run it locally. Here is useful guides by Jonas Friedmann and rtCamp.

Anyway Bedrock could run over any LAMP/LEMP stack. The only “special” feature is the Composer integration. Composer for PHP is like Bundler for Ruby. Helps developers to manage dependencies in the project. Here is used to manage plugins, themes and WordPress core update.

You can run composer install to install libraries. If you update libraries configuration or you want to force download of them (maybe after a fresh install) run composer update.


Capistrano enable user to setup different deploy environment. A global configuration is defined and you need to specify only custom configuration for each environment. An example of /config/deploy/production.rb:

set :application, 'example'
set :stage, :production
set :branch, "master"
server '', user: 'user', roles: %w{web app db}

Everything else is inherited from global config where are defined all the other deploy properties. Is important to say that deploy script of capistrano on Bedrock only download source code from Git repo and run composer install for main project. If you need to run in on any plugin you new to define a custom capistrano task and run it after the end of deploy. For instance you can add in the global configuration the following lines in order to install dependencies on a specific plugin:

namespace :deploy do
desc 'Rebuild Plugin Libraries'
task :updateplugin do
on roles(:app), in: :sequence, wait: 5 do
execute "cd /var/www/#{fetch(:application)}/htdocs/current/web/app/plugins/anything/ && composer install"
after 'deploy:publishing', 'deploy:updateplugin'

Now you are ready to deploy your Bedrock install on server!
Simply run cap production deploy, restart PHP-FPM (service php5-fpm restart) and enjoy it 😀

Many thanks to Giuseppe, great sysadmin and friend, for support during development and deploy of this @#@?!?@# application.

phpday_logoI used to refer to me as “PHP Developer” for a long time. More or less from the beginning of my career to 2011 when I moved to Ruby as main language. Last time I worked for real using PHP, tools were still uncomfortable and community was huge but still messy. 4 years later everything seems changed. Several important companies (including Facebook) leverage on it and both core language and most popular tools are improved a lot.

Things like HHVM, HackFIG, Composer, PHP7 many more are rapidly evolving the PHP landscape so I decided to attend the PHPDay 2015 to meet the Italian community refresh my knowledge.

It was a really interesting event. I had the opportunity to meet several awesome people and chat with them about almost everything (quite often chats happened on the grass of the beautiful location in Verona 🙂 )


Davey Shafik (@dshafik), a funny guy from Engine Yard, talks about PHP7 and HHVM as major improvements for the core of PHP. Enrico Zimuel (@ezimuel), core developer of Zend Framework, talks about ZF3. Steve Maraspin (@maraspin) talks about his experience with async PHP and parallel processing. Bernhard Schussek (@webmozart), core developer of Symfony, talks about Puli: a framework agnostic tool fro resource sharing.

I strongly believe PHP is changed. It included many “good parts” from other languages and is now ready to became, with the Facebook endorsement, a first class language.

See you next year at PHPDay 2016 😀

A  couple of weeks ago I was playing with Hack looking for online resources. I found on Youtube the playlist of the Hack Dev Day 2014 where Hack was officially presented to the world.

Introduction to the language by Julien Verlaguet is really interesting, it show the advantages of static typing and how the HHVM is able to preserve the rapid development cycle of PHP.

Also talk by Josh Watzman is interesting. He talks about how to convert PHP code to Hack code and years of experience at Facebook are extremely useful.

The conference also talks about how to run HHVM on Heroku, gives an overview of library and common use cases of Hack and talks about HHVM strong optimization.

If you are playing with Hack I absolutely recommend these videos.

hiphop_logoHipHop was one of the most notable thing came from the Facebook labs about PHP development. PHP is slow and limited. They can’t rewrite theirs entire codebase so they decided to make PHP better. HipHop is a simply PHP to C++ compiler (HPHPc). Converted code is compiled into a binary and performance improvements are about 6x.

Unfortunately HipHop has several downsides. For all the performance gains that HPHPc provided, the curve for further performance improvements had flattened. HPHPc did not fully support the PHP language, including the create_function() and eval() constructs. HPHPc required a very different push process, requiring a bigger than 1 GB binary to be compiled and distributed to many machines in short order.

hhvm_logoTo overcome these problems Facebook develops, starting from early 2010, the HHVM: a PHP virtual machine. HHVM builds on top of HPHPc, using the same runtime and extension function implementations. HHVM converts PHP code into a high-level bytecode. This bytecode is then translated into x64 machine code dynamically at runtime by a just-in-time (JIT) compiler similarly to C#/CLR or Java/JVM.

hack_logoFacebook also released Hack, a programming language for HHVM that can be seen as a new version of PHP which it allows programmers to use both dynamic typing and static typing.

HHVM supports major PHP open source projects like WordPress. Running this project on seems really easy. A little modification was needed but last version (3.9) no longer need this. HHVM can also run on Heroku using a custom buildpack available here: https://github.com/hhvm/heroku-buildpack-hhvm.

My first experiment was to run WordPress on Heroku using HHVM. First step is create a Heroku app using HHVM buildpack:

heroku create --buildpack https://github.com/hhvm/heroku-buildpack-hhvm

Then you can deploy a standard WordPress installation adding the following config.hdf (the HHVM configuration file)

Server {
DefaultDocument = index.php
Eval {
Jit = true
VirtualHost {
* {
Pattern = .*
RewriteRules {
dirindex {
pattern = ^/(.*)/$
to = $1/index.php
qsa = true
StaticFile {
FilesMatch {
* {
pattern = .*.(dll|exe)
headers {
* = Content-Disposition: attachment
Extensions {
css = text/css
gif = image/gif
html = text/html
jpe = image/jpeg
jpeg = image/jpeg
jpg = image/jpeg
png = image/png
tif = image/tiff
tiff = image/tiff
txt = text/plain

Warning: don’t miss a newline character on the last line or linter will fail and you will going to hate this project 😉

Everything works fine. You can add you favorite MySQL hosted service and run your WordPress 5 minutes installation. Almost every plugin seems 100% compatible, I tested most popular with no problem. Performances are better and you also have the opportunity to use Hack to develop new custom plugins.

Now I’m curious about how HHVM can improve my production installations of WordPress. About this I’m looking for an OpenShift cartridge for HHVM or someone want to collaborate to create a new one (the only I found on Github seems “young”). Anyone interested? Let me know!