Thankfully there are blogs…because there’s no documentation


Our web site is getting more and more hits and being PHP based on Windows 2003 can creak form time-to-time and it seemed sensible to optimize it.  Fortunately Microsoft has released FastCGI which can improve performance substantially so installing it is a no-brainer.  OK, while making changes why not upgrade PHP to get the latest non-threading version (FastCGI handles threading issues).  Seems like it should be straight forward and it would be if there was any documentation.  The problems started with PHP. 

All we did was replace the PHP version but there were then notices about PHP threading issues all over the web site.  Straight off to the PHP web site for information -nothing.  Using Google to search for the error message present many reports and one indicated the solution is to change a DLL included with the new PHP version.  Why isn’t this in the documentation.  Why not on the MySQL site?

 OK, that problem over we installed FastCGI following the instruction on the Microsoft Web site and learned how to create the INI file.  But with FastCGI installed and enabled and the INI file created the FastCGI didn’t seem to work.  Fortunately others have been through this and blogged about it.  It turns out the security requirements are different when using FastCGI.  Normally it’s necessary to give the Internet Guest account (IUSR_XXX) rights to run the CGI exe.  But when using FastCGI the NETWORK SERVICE account has to be given permission to access the PHP *DLL* and, if you want to use MySQL allow it access to libmysqli.dll.  As the blog author points out (tongue firmly in cheek) he couldn’t find any information about the security requirements in the documentation.

Its a real shame that some organizations are shirking their responsibility to provide reasonably complete documentation.  Maybe theres some excuse for the first issue because it falls between PHP and MySQL and both organizations are open source efforts.  Even so there seems little willingness to tak responsibility.

But there seems little excuse for Microsoft, a commerical organization,  not to include the basic information needed to get their software working.

Instead the blog culture seems to be compensating for these short-comings which, for users, is better than nothing.  But isn’t acceptable and artifically shelters them from their responsibilities.

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