Adding php7 to Symbiosis with Jessie


Does anyone have any experience upgrading php to version 7 on Jessie running Symbiosis?

I host several Moodle LMS websites and the clients are becoming keen to move to the newest version of Moodle which requires php 7.

The wait for Symbiosis with Stretch seems to be rather long so I’d appreicate any insight from those who have made the journey by alternative means whilts retaining Symbiosis :wink:



It might not be what you want to hear, but it’s possible to upgrade to Stretch manually, and then you’ll pretty much have PHP7 out of the box.

It can be more work and contrived but Symbiosis still appears to function correctly under it.

I know in the end when I wanted to get to PHP7 I decided this was the best route.

Otherwise, the upgrade to PHP7 on Jessie shouldn’t be any more problematic that other upgrades if you’re happy in the command line.


Thanks @andymerrett I’m not especially keen to go down the route of installing php7 va, say, dotdeb. I had probelms in the past with an early upgrade to a php package. In the end I needed to completely reinstall Symbiosis on a clean VM.

That is probably the route I’ll have to go down. I was pondering whether anyone had experience which might offer me a quicker, short-term fix.

Indeed, whether anyone had tried and failed miserably or had caused more problems than they felt was worth the effort.

Thanks for your observations. Very helpful.



As new installations of WP recommend php7 I requested a recommended list of answers to the questions asked when upgrading from SymJessie to SymStretch during early Jan 18. Sadly the request was ignored completely so I’m guessing that SymStretch is far from ready for use on production servers; frustrating and I just wish Bytemark would be a little more transparent. That said Symbiosis has always been worth waiting for.
Regards Pete


I’m not sure which bits of Symbiosis aren’t working correctly on Stretch, although I probably don’t use the full set of its capabilities.

Apart from pointing to non-existent documentation on logging into the shell (and that’s just because it auto-constructs the URL from whatever Debian version it finds) it seems fine. At least, I can do all the ‘normal’ stuff and the ‘auto’ stuff appears also to work, and obviously it makes no difference at all to what Apache is doing.


I attempted the upgrade from SymJessie to SymStretch but I ended up guessing toooooooo many answers - all a bit hopeless without clear direction. Hence the reason I requested assistance from B’mark.


Yes I remember the thread (or lack of, perhaps) when I was investigating PHP7 and HTTP/2.

It is a bit worrying that nothing was forthcoming as I thought Symbiosis was supposed to be the darling of Bytemark. It seems it might just be easier in the long run to go it alone with a non-Symbiosis install of the favourite OS flavour…


I seem to remember that my experience has been that moving from one release to the next has always been easier by creating a new VM with a clean install then moving over websites etc and when all is running well then disabling the old VM and once everything is OK removing the old VM.

It costs a small amount for the day or two when two VMs exist but this has always worked for me.

I bought into Symbiosis because it made configuration easy but I guess I could switch back to a vanilla version of Debian or Ubuntu and add on a control panel of some sort. Symbiosis did, though, resolve a lot of issues that arose when I used plain Ubuntu. But that may have reflected my inexperience.


I don’t use Symbiosis. it never really appealed because I always fancied a ‘plainer’ OS experience.

Never mind. I suspect that it’s great for a lot of people.

My route was use plain Debian with Virtualmin installed to manage my domains and generally provide a nice GUI to manage all the config files for apache, postfix and all the other good stuff.

I’ve loved the experience.

However, every once in a while you have to upgrade the OS. I’ve done this many times but I’m always scared in case it screws the whole thing and all my customers are going to be down and out for a few days, or worse.

I too have migrated to a new host, instead of upgrading, but it is a faff, and I’d rather not do it.

My new strategy is probably going to involve Docker. And then (hopefully) as long as the persisted data is preserved with a backup, it’s a half hour job to spin up a new host and deploy your containers + some time to let the DNS propagate if necessary.


Symbiosis Stretch is definitely still under development, though unfortunately I can’t promise a concrete release date as of yet. I do appreciate it’s taking a fair while but it should hopefully be worth the wait.

In the mean time as an alternative to using the dotdeb repo, you could use systemd-nspawn to run PHP7 inside a container.

I’ve created a little script for systemd-nspawn here. It’s a little rough around the edges but it should hopefully help give you an idea how it could be set up. PHP7-FPM will be installed in a Stretch container, with a socket located at /opt/php/php7.0-fpm.sock on the host and a FilesMatch php$ block in your chosen domain’s vhost file. To swap between PHP versions you’ll just need to comment that block out and reload Apache. :slight_smile: