TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Panther Roars, Database Meows

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 12
Column Tag: Programming

UNTANGLING THE WEB

Panther Roars, Database Meows

by Kevin Hemenway

Panther worth your time? Databases besides Filemaker? Pffffttt.

Panther worth your time? Databases besides Filemaker? Pffffttt.

"What's new in Panther?" you shout with mindless adulation, anxious saliva and drool waiting to soil the pages of your newest MacTech. Bad news, bub: absolutely nothing: nothing to write about, nothing to justify your upgrading, nothing worth your time, effort, or worrisome heart palpitations. I was hoping I could pound out a peck of pickled pages on pathetic Panther proselytizing, but no, Apple has spurned my deadly Shaolin technique.

I am, of course, talking specifically about web serving.

Mr. Piser, I Think You Should Come Up Here

Sure, a lot of other incredible drool-worthy stuff has happened in the latest OS: Expose, word completion in certain applications (via Option-Escape or F5), FileVault for the paranoids, gcc 3.3 and distributed building, a finished version of X11, Xcode, blah, blah, blah. But web serving? Nothing, nadda, zilch. Happily, this is not really a negative--it's hard to improve on something that was nearly perfect in the first place (of course, this all depends on your needs, desires, and expectations).

Which isn't to say there's nothing new with the Apache web server and its related technology... just nothing monumental, merely incremental, ornamental, and supplemental. I'd have loved to see Apache 2.0 and MySQL 4.0, but let's cover the relevant changes we got instead. Note that I'll only cover areas we've touched upon in the previous columns: explaining the differences between features we've yet to use isn't very productive. When the time comes, if there are crucial differences between Jaguar and Panther, I'll address them.

  • Apache is now version 1.3.28; the latest available for Jaguar was 1.3.27. 1.3.28 is mostly a security and bugfix release so, although welcome, there's nothing to really get excited about. If you're interested in the specifics and technicalities, you can read the sordid details at http://www.apache.org/dist/httpd/CHANGES_1.3 (which also lists modifications for the just-released, as of this writing, 1.3.29).

  • The output of httpd -V (which shows what Apache has been compiled with) includes a new entry: -D DYNAMIC_MODULE_LIMIT=64. This is a standard Apache compile-time setting, and controls how many modules can be dynamically loaded (fairly obvious, eh?). "64" is the standard Apache default; its explicit definition here is unnecessary (but there's no harm in doing so). More info at http://httpd.apache.org/dev/apidoc/apidoc_DYNAMIC_MODULE_LIMIT.html.

    <
  • Our included PHP is now version 4.3.2 (as grep PHP /var/log/httpd/error_log confirms). Even though 4.3.4 or higher will probably be available by the time you read this, a number of good security, performance, and language enhancements were made from 4.1.2 (the latest Jaguar version) onward. Most notably, PEAR (the "PHP Extension and Application Repository") is now part of PHP by default, although it seems to be broken in 10.3--see "Homework Malignments" below for analysis.

    The PHP configuration has been improved in /etc/httpd.conf. Under Apache 1.3.27, we had the AddModule and LoadModule lines, as well as AddType's for .php and .phps (see last month's Untangling the Web). We've got the same thing in 1.3.28, but they've been slightly improved (Listing 1). First, the MIME types are more tightly defined--they'll only come into play when the PHP module is loaded (IfModule is a simple conditional... if mod_php was loaded, then do this). The second improvement is the addition of index.php to the DirectoryIndex, which allows that file to be served by default when someone requests a directory (http://disobey.com/example/).

  • As you'd expect from a new PHP install, the <? phpinfo(); ?> we learned about last issue is different (Figure 1). Along with a heavier command line that explicitly enables a few features, the configuration file (php.ini) has moved from /usr/lib/ to /etc/, an arguably smarter location. If you've installed the recommended php.ini (http://cvs.php.net/co.php/php-src/php.ini-recommended), be sure to move it and restart Apache (sudo apachectl restart). Even with the upgrade, the default Apple-supplied PHP doesn't come close to the number of features and built-ins provided by Liyanage's version (http://www.entropy.ch/software/macosx/php/) or Server Logistics' Complete PHP (http://www.serverlogistics.com/php4.php).

  • Perl, which we talked about during our two CGI articles, has been upgraded to 5.8.1-RC3; the final version of 5.8.1 has since been released. If you already know a thing or two about Perl, be forewarned that any modules you've compiled under Jaguar's 5.6.0 (like XML::Parser, HTML::Parser, Compress::Zlib, etc.) will need to be reinstalled, as the two different Perls are not binary compatible. Also note that cpan, similar to perl -MCPAN -esomething, is also available (find out more with man cpan).

Listing 1: Configuring PHP under Panther

The improved PHP configuration from httpd.conf

<IfModule mod_php4.c>
      # If php is turned on, we respect .php and .phps files.
      AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
      AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps
      # Since most users will want index.php to work we
      # also automatically enable index.php
      <IfModule mod_dir.c>
            DirectoryIndex index.html index.php
      </IfModule>
</IfModule>


Figure 1: The output of PHP 4.3.2's phpinfo() under Panther.

Wait, Wait, Hold Up Dog... MySQL?

"Apache 2.0 and MySQL 4.0?" What's this MySQL (http://www.mysql.com/) thingy thing? Quite simply, it's your new Filemaker or 4D, only without the pretty pictures. Pronounced my-ess-que-ell, it's one of the most popular free and open sourced databases, installed and readily available to most web hosting accounts you'd normally pay monthly fees for. It's also installed by default in Apple's Mac OS X Server. Another, arguably stronger, database program is PostgreSQL (http://www.pgsql.com/) but, in a move sure to flirt with disaster, I'll rudely ignore it for most of my Untangling the Web columns. Enough emails convincing me otherwise will certainly sway my decision.

Since this column assumes you're not using OS X Server, our first step is to install MySQL. Incidentally, this is also the most complicated, not because it's difficult, but because there are so many different directions in which to approach it:

  • Compile the Source Code: The geekiest among us will take MySQL's raw source code and compile it from scratch. This is the approach taken by Jay Greenspan in his Apple Internet Developer article (http://developer.apple.com/internet/macosx/osdb.html). Incidentally, I offered the same approach in a similar web-serving series for 10.1: http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2002

    /03/08/apache_mac_5.html. While compiling from source gives you ultimate control, I've yet to see a situation that wasn't adequately handled by using a pre-packaged version (below).

  • Install the Official Binary: MySQL provides Mac OS X double-clickable installers in "Standard", "Max", or "Debug" varieties (http://www.mysql.com/downloads/mysql-4.0.html). "Standard" is recommended for most, "Max" contains features that have yet to be fully tested, and "Debug" is suicidal for production environments. If you're always anxious for a double-clickable of the latest version in a timely fashioned, you can't do better than using the officials.

  • Install Using a Package System: If you're a fan of automated installers like Fink (http://fink.sourceforge.net/) or DarwinPorts (http://www.opendarwin.org/), there's probably a MySQL package waiting for you (for fink: fink list mysql; for DarwinPorts, check the "databases" category). Package systems can usually upgrade everything you've installed in one fell-swoop (fink selfupdate and fink update-all, for example), and they're one of the easiest ways to uninstall a package too (something that most other alternatives have no equivalent).

  • Install an Unofficial Binary: Various user-created double-clickables exist, most notably ServerLogistics' Complete MySQL (http://www.serverlogistics.com/mysql.php). While not "official", they're often "value-added" in some way, and Complete MySQL is no different: it comes with a handy System Preference pane for controlling MySQL (Figure 3), a Mac OS X StartupItem (see "Homework Malignments" for some tips on building your own; the official binary also ships with one), and various drivers for database connectivity with ODBC or JDBC. Unofficial binaries may not be updated as regularly as the official releases, and you run the risk of them not being continued at all (due to lack of interest, impetus, or inspiration).

Which adventure should you embark on? As much as I like the thrills of a shiny new "official" release, the added treasure of ServerLogistics' unofficial binary can save you a couple of steps in your initial exploration. Regardless which path you choose to install MySQL, its continued configuration and administration is the same: you can use the command line to do everything, or nearly everything through GUIs (like CocoaMySQL, phpMyAdmin, etc.) or code (like PHP). We'll cover CocoaMySQL (http://cocoamysql.sourceforge.net/) and PHP database coding (http://www.php.net/mysql) in our next column and, if there's time, possibly phpMyAdmin (http://www.phpmyadmin.net/).

Installing Complete MySQL

Complete MySQL comes with a rather verbose installation document, but we'll cover the process quickly here. Go ahead and download the latest version (4.0.15 at the time of this writing; the latest official release is 4.0.16). Extract and mount, double-click the MySQL.pkg, agree to everything, and pause for a second when you get to the "Select a Destination" screen.

It continually surprises me how many people don't know about the File > Show Files command. Within any installer built using Apple's package system, you can always get a list of the files that are about to installed simply by choosing that menu item (Figure 2 shows the file lists for both the official MySQL binary and Complete MySQL). The list can be saved, printed, and used as a roadmap if, and when, you want to uninstall the package (though some creative license will need to be applied to find out where the package's root install directory is, represented as ./).


Figure 2: Using "Show Files" gives you a roadmap for uninstalling in the future.

Once the Installer finishes, you should be able to browse to /Library/MySQL and see a bunch of newly added files. Likewise, you should notice that a MySQL StartupItem has been installed into /Library/StartupItems. Note that even though MySQL has successfully been installed, it has not been automatically started... there's still some initialization to do.

Next, install the MySQL Preference Pane. Since I alone will be administrating MySQL, I've dragged my copy into /Users/morbus/Library/PreferencePanes/; if you'd like it accessible to any user on the machine, choose /Library/PreferencePanes/ instead. Once it's in place, open up your System Preferences, and choose the new "MySQL" item (Figure 3).


Figure 3: The newly installed MySQL Preference Pane.

To finalize your installation of MySQL, you'll want to first "Initialize" the database, than assign a password to the MySQL root user. MySQL database users have nothing to do with users that you've created within OS X, so don't get them confused. Once MySQL has been initialized, "Start" the server, then "Set Root Password" (Figure 4).


Figure 4: Setting MySQL's root password in the MySQL Preference Pane.

We can ensure that MySQL is running a few different ways: by checking the newly created logfiles (at /Library/MySQL/data/computername.local.err; you'll need to authenticate as an administrative user to do so), or by checking the currently running processes via the shell (ps auwx) or Panther's Activity Monitor (Figure 5), a much improved replacement for Jaguar's Process Viewer. If you've got hundreds of processes, use the "Filter" input to narrow in on "mysql".


Figure 5: Verify MySQL is running with Panther's Activity Viewer

Homework Malignments

In our next column, we'll look into interacting with our new MySQL database: administrative tasks from the command line, visual interaction with GUI-based tools like CocoaMySQL, inserting and manipulating database records with PHP, and more. We'll really just be scratching the surface on what's possible, but it'll give you enough knowledge to start your own database project, or feel relatively confident about installing someone else's. For now, students may contact the teacher at morbus@disobey.com.

  • Who's in the attic?

  • In non-Panther versions of OS X, Apple manually installed the optional PEAR, as well as a number of PEAR-released modules, into /System/Library/PHP. In Panther, they probably opted not to do this since PEAR became a default PHP extension. Unfortunately, it appears that the PEAR installation under 10.3 is incomplete (witness the "missing System.php" complaint when running /usr/bin/pear). Simply copying an existing System.php from Jaguar won't work, so you'll want to grab the latest from http://cvs.php.net/cvs.php/php-src/pear/System.php. Save this file to your Desktop and copy it into place with sudo cp ~/Desktop/System.php /usr/lib/php. You should then be able to run PEAR without a problem (list PEAR modules currently installed with sudo pear list).

  • Every time Mac OS X boots, zillions of things occur... a fair portion of this zillion is controlled by StartupItems, files that say what should run and when. To create your own StartupItems, take a look at "Creating SystemStarter Startup Item Bundles" (http://www.opensource.apple.com/projects/documentation/howto/html/SystemStarter_HOWTO.html) and "Start Me Up: Writing and Understanding OS X StartupItems" (http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/mac/2003/10/21/startup.html).

  • If you're interested in seeing what the MySQL PreferencePane actually does for you, the installation PDF provided with Complete MySQL has the command line equivalents.


Kevin Hemenway, coauthor of Mac OS X Hacks and Spidering Hacks, is better known as Morbus Iff, the creator of disobey.com, which bills itself as "content for the discontented." Publisher and developer of more home cooking than you could ever imagine (like the popular open-sourced aggregator AmphetaDesk, the best-kept gaming secret Gamegrene.com, the ever ignorable Nonsense Network, etc.), he is absolutely and positively disgusted by the lack of Jolt cola within walking distance. Contact him at morbus@disobey.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Tunnelblick 3.6.8beta10 - GUI for OpenVP...
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
FileZilla 3.22.0 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.22.0: New Directory listing filters can now be... Read more
Postbox 5.0.3 - Powerful and flexible em...
Postbox is a new email application that helps you organize your work life and get stuff done. It has all the elegance and simplicity of Apple Mail, but with more power and flexibility to manage even... Read more
OnyX 3.2.0 - Maintenance and optimizatio...
OnyX is a multifunction utility that you can use to verify the startup disk and the structure of its system files, to run miscellaneous maintenance and cleaning tasks, to configure parameters in the... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.4.4.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
calibre 2.69.0 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Evernote 6.9.1 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
jAlbum Pro 13.5 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. You can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly... Read more
jAlbum 13.5 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results - Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Google Chrome 53.0.2785.143 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more

3 tips to aid your journey in Banner Sag...
Stoic Games brings us another viking epic in the guise of Banner Saga 2 this week. It’s a sweeping tale, richly animated and draped in melancholy and moments of beauty. The game’s been received as a much improved follow up to the first entry in the... | Read more »
Pumped BMX 3: Beginner tips and tricks
There’s a whole lot more to Pumped BMX 3 than meets the eye. Your goal is to perform a wide array of sweet flips and tricks, but that’s easier said than done. It takes well practiced timing and coordination, and the game doesn’t really explain that... | Read more »
Cybird’s latest release - BFB Champions...
Launched in the UK in early September, BFB Champions’ newest update is loaded with great new features, and looks set to outshine the original version by taking it out of soft launch and giving it a new lease of life. | Read more »
3 apps to boost your focus
As someone who works from home, my workspace is a minefield of distraction. Cats, tasty snacks, the wind blowing past my window, that cleaning that I suddenly can’t put off any longer. If I let distraction takes its course, I find that soon half... | Read more »
Pumped BMX 3 (Games)
Pumped BMX 3 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The final instalment of the smash hit #1 rated BMX game is here! Following on from the insane success of Pumped BMX 2, Pumped 3... | Read more »
4 games like Burly Men at Sea to inspire...
Burly Men at Sea is out today and it looks a treat. It tells the tale of three Scandinavian fishermen who leave the humdrum of their daily lives to go exploring. It’s a beautiful folksy story that unfurls as you interact with the environment... | Read more »
3 reasons you need to play Kingdom: New...
Developed by a tag team of indie developers - Thomas "Noio" van den Berg and Marco "Licorice" Bancale - Kingdom is a vibrant medieval fantasy adventure that casts players as a king or queen who must expand their empire by exploring the vasts lands... | Read more »
JoyCity have launched a brand new King o...
Great news for all of you Game of Dice fans out there - JoyCity have just released a brand new limited edition pack with a really cool twist. The premise of Game of Dice is fairly straightforward, asking you to roll dice to navigate your way around... | Read more »
Burly Men at Sea (Games)
Burly Men at Sea 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Burly Men at Sea is a folktale about a trio of large, bearded fishermen who step away from the ordinary to seek adventure. | Read more »
3 tips for catching the gnarliest waves...
Like a wave breaking on the shore, Tidal Rider swept its way onto the App Store charts this week settling firmly in the top 10. It’s a one-touch high score-chaser in which you pull surfing stunts while dodging seagulls and collecting coins. The... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

CAZE Annouces New Zero 5 Case for Jet Black i...
Hong Kong basd CAZE has announced Zero 5 case for iPhone 7/ 7 Plus, one of the world’s thinnest clear hard cases, measuring just 0.5 millimeters. CAZE has been producing and improving the Zero 5... Read more
Nest Egg Inventory App for iOS Offers Conven...
Campbell, California based Winprogger LLC has announced the release and immediate availability of Nest Egg – Inventory 4.1.22, an important update to their easy-to-use, yet comprehensive inventory... Read more
Factor4, LLC Launches Apple iOS and Android G...
Factor4, LLC, which offers gift and loyalty services to the SMB marketplace, has released free mobile applications that enable merchants to process via all Apple and Android devices. The Apple and... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $200...
B&H Photo has 15″ Retina Apple MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more
Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
Apple refurbished 2016 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2016 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook... Read more
1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449, save $50
Adorama has the 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini (Apple sku# MGEM2LL/A): $449 $50 off MSRP To purchase a mini at... Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook... Read more

Jobs Board

Systems Architecture Prototyping - *Apple*...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Akron,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
Systems Architecture Prototyping - *Apple*...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- South B...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.