The Month of Updates
2015 has been one of the most forward looking years in World Wide Web evolution. There were so many steps made in just one year. Let me go through a couple.
A lot of movement has happened in adopting HTTP 2.0, which was barely standardized in 2015, fifteen years after HTTP 1.1. It brings many improvements such as compression of headers, multiplexing and pipelining. Websites really load much faster over HTTP 2.0 and since it is fully backwards compatible I encourage everyone to upgrade. It is already fully supported by most modern browsers and both Apache2 and nginx already support it.
On mobile side Apple released iOS 9, which fully supports and encourages the use of HTTP 2.0 in their native frameworks. iOS 9 also forces all applications to use SSL by default and developers need to explicitly disable it.
Everyone knows that such a big change will not happen immediately, but I am very enthusiastic about the entire movement to HTTP 2.0.
In December PHP 7 was released. Since it is the first major version release of PHP since 2004, it is a big thing for all PHP developers. WordPress has great support for PHP 7 since last September and websites are running up to 2-3x faster than on PHP 5.
I’m always trying to be on the bleeding edge of technology, with the release of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, I decided to update the server running Unified Sense. Much to my surprise I realized that the website does not run anymore. Please do not follow me on this, as I was completely unprepared for the update and effectively broke my server. At least I had a backup. As it turned out 16.04 LTS ships with php7.0-fpm preinstalled, which broke my php5-fpm process and WordPress installation. Since I was already upgrading PHP, I also decided to upgrade nginx to successfully run the website on HTTP 2.0 server.
That is where the first problems began. HTTP 2.0 requires SSL by default and since Unified Sense does not have a certificate (just did not bother with it, since it does not even need users to login), that was the first problem. I know I could easily generate my own certificate, but who really likes the “danger red” privacy icon on your browser for an unsecure https connection? Since red marks danger I believe it looks much worse to have https with self signed certificate rather than just use unencrypted connection from user’s point of view. But thanks to Let’s Encrypt, I could install and configure SSL connection in less than 15 minutes. And it’s all nice and green too!
So there it is: Unified Sense is now running on latest Ubuntu using HTTP 2.0 and PHP 7. And the website really feels much faster. There is a great tutorial about getting your WordPress running on HTTP 2.0 on Delicious Brains. I very strongly encourage everyone to update their software or at least move to SSL.