Spring feature rollout: PHP 7.4, improved shell command environment, loosened PU limits

Published 2021-03-24 by Jochen Lillich

On Wednesday, 7 April, at 10:30 UTC, we’re going to roll out a bunch of significant updates to freistilbox.

PHP 7.4

Because we’re still busy with our big infrastructure modernisation project, we let the PHP versions that freistilbox supports lapse for a while. Since an update is now overdue, PHP 7.4 is coming to all upgraded freistilbox clusters with this feature rollout. PHP 8.x is soon to follow.

With the steady infra upgrade progress, all our customers will find new PHP versions offered on the freistilbox dashboard in the coming weeks.

Extended default shell command directories

The separate service box that allows our customers to securely log in and execute website maintenance tasks is an important feature of every freistilbox cluster.

In the upcoming change, we’re going to extend the list of default shell command directories on our services boxes by two important entries:

  • $HOME/bin – the bin directory under the respective site user’s home directory. This allows you to install all kinds of command line tools to your service box.
  • $HOME/current/bin – this is where the bin directory at the root of your application code repository gets deployed. This allows you to maintain important tools like drush or wp-cli together with your code base.

We recommend using the second option, i.e. the /bin directory of your code repository, because having your tools deployed with your application code not only makes maintaining them easy, it’ll also make sure they’re still available if your service box has to be replaced. That being said, the ~/bin directory has its own advantages, for example that you can avoid bloating your git repository with big executables.

The new initialisation scripts will also set the PHP_VERSION variable we introduced recently to the correct version you’ve selected on the freistilbox dashboard.

NOTE: This change will replace the .bashrc and .bash_profile shell initialisation scripts for your site user accounts. However, if these files already exist at deployment time, they will be preserved under a different name and called from our shell initialisation scripts. While this should ensure that you won’t lose existing functionality, we recommend you take a minute to check your setup after the change has been rolled out.

PU limits re(de)fined

One of the most distinct differences between freistilbox and other managed hosting products for Drupal and WordPress is the way we size our hosting clusters. With the “Processing Unit”, we distil the resources required for prodiving high performance and availability down to a single metric.

Up until now, we calculated PU as “one concurrent HTTP request passed on from our Varnish caching proxies to the application boxes”. We decided to change our algorithm to an even more customer-friendly one: From now on, a PU is going to be equivalent to one concurrent PHP worker process. This means that requests for uncached static assets will not count towards a cluster’s PU limit anymore. Your freistilbox cluster will be able to serve even more requests in parallel without any increase in cost.


We hope you’re as excited about these changes as we are! As always, the freistilbox team is happy to help with any questions or issues you might have.