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Installing Zend Optimiser

I had a bit of an education on the confusing array of Zend products recently. A client needed Zend Optimizer (which, of course, Zend spells with a “z” to cater to the all-powerful American market) installed on their virtual private server (running Linux, of course), as the installation routine for a web application wouldn’t proceed without it. Fair enough. Some web applications are encoded so that they can’t be hacked (as opposed to cracked; see the difference), reverse engineered, modified, etc., and Zend Optimiser interprets the encoded PHP files so that they can run.

But I was confused. I thought Zend was installed with PHP by default. Turns out it’s Zend Engine that’s installed with PHP. So off I go to the interwebs to do some research. Take a look at these pages:

  • Zend Products: Here are listed Zend Server, Zend Server Cluster Manager, Zend Studio and Zend Guard — four products.
  • Zend Downloads: Here are listed Zend Server, Zend Server Cluster Manager, Zend Server Community Edition, Zend Studio, Zend Guard, Zend Optimizer, Zend Framework, Zend Core and Zend Platform. Phew! Nine products!

You don’t even see Zend Engine listed on either of the above pages, presumably because it’s installed with PHP by default.

So you click on Zend Optimiser and you’re presented with downloads for Zend Guard, Zend Optimiser and Zend Guard Loader. Huh? What’s what, where did Zend Guard Loader come from, and what is it?

Add to that that, in the back of my mind, I thought I had been down this road before on a different server that I’m sure already had a decoder installed. However, I figured out that I was probably thinking of Ioncube, and it had likely been installed with a control panel on that server.

Add further to that confusion the plethora of different instructions you find in a web search, some of which (including the “user guide” that is linked to right next to the Zend Optimizer download link) refer to an installation script which doesn’t exist in the download, and you can see why I was left scratching my head. At one point I even started following the RPM installation instructions on the Zend website, until I said to myself, “Wait a minute. This isn’t right.” Sure enough, those instructions were for a different Zend product.

The download does include what are referred to on some websites as “manual” installation instructions. They’re straightforward, but the confusing array of different options out there threw me off. In the end, the “manual” instructions did indeed work — and given the choice I’d prefer them anyway — and took all of about three minutes, far less time than I had already wasted.