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PHP release process

A release managers role includes making packaged source code from the canonical repository available according to their release schedule.

The release schedule for their branch is available on a Wiki page, for example PHP 8.0 release schedule

There are two types of release:

  • non stable (alpha/beta/RC)
  • stable

The process of making packaged source available and announcing availability is explained in detail below. The process differs slightly for non-stable and stable releases.

Before a release manager can begin their work, there are several things that must happen, explained at the end of this document in New Release Manager Checklist.

General notes and tips

  1. Do not release on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays as this gives poor lead time for downstream consumers adhering to a typical work week.

  2. Package two days before a release. So if the release is to be on Thursday, package on Tuesday. Think about timezones as well.

  3. Ensure that the relevant tests on CI are green.

    See:

    It is recommended to do so a couple of days before the packaging day, to have enough time to investigate failures, communicate with the authors and commit the fixes.

    Check the CI status for your branch periodically and resolve the failures ASAP.

    See more in https://wiki.php.net/rfc/travis_ci.

  4. Follow all steps to the letter. When unclear ask previous RM's before proceeding. Ideally make sure that for the first releases one of the previous RM's is around to answer questions. For the steps related to the php/QA/bug websites try to have someone from the webmaster team on hand.

  5. Verify the tags to be extra sure everything was tagged properly.

  6. There is a PHP release Docker image https://github.com/sgolemon/php-release with forks available to help releasing.

  7. Communication with previous release managers should be conducted via release-managers@php.net

  8. References to repositories in this document refer to the canonical source located at https://github.com/php

Packaging a non stable release (alpha/beta/RC)

  1. Check the tests at https://travis-ci.com/php/php-src/builds.

  2. Run the scripts/dev/credits script in php-src and commit the changes in the credits files in ext/standard.

  3. Checkout the release branch for this release (e.g., PHP-7.4.2) from the main branch.

  4. Bump the version numbers in main/php_version.h, Zend/zend.h, configure.ac and possibly NEWS. Do not use abbreviations for alpha and beta. Do not use dashes, you should #define PHP_VERSION "7.4.22RC1" and not #define PHP_VERSION "7.4.22-RC1".

    ⚠️ When releasing the first release candidate, you must also bump the API version numbers in Zend/zend_extensions.h, Zend/zend_modules.h, and main/php.h. The API versions between the alpha/beta/.0RCx releases can be left the same, or bumped as little as possible because PHP extensions will need to be rebuilt with each bump. Do not bump the API versions after RC1.

  5. Compile and run make test, with and without ZTS, using the right Bison and re2c version (for PHP 7.4, minimum Bison 3.0.0 and re2c 0.13.4 are used).

  6. Check ./sapi/cli/php -v output for version matching.

  7. If all is right, commit the changes to the release branch:

    git commit -a
  8. Tag the repository release branch with the version, e.g.:

    git tag -u YOURKEYID php-7.4.2RC2
  9. Bump the version numbers in main/php_version.h, Zend/zend.h, configure.ac and NEWS in the main branch (PHP-7.4 for example) to prepare for the next version. For example, if the RC is "7.4.1RC1" then the new one should be 7.4.2-dev - regardless if we get a new RC or not. This is to make sure version_compare() can correctly work. Commit the changes to the main branch.

  10. Push the changes to the php-src.

    Non stable release branches don't need to be pushed (a local temporary branch should be used).

    git push --tags origin HEAD
    git push origin {main branch}
    git push origin {release branch}
  11. Run: ./scripts/dev/makedist php-7.4.0RC2, this will export the tree, create configure and build three tarballs (gz, bz2 and xz).

  12. Run ./scripts/dev/gen_verify_stub <version> [identity], this will sign the tarballs and output verification information to be included in announcement email.

  13. Copy those tarballs (scp, rsync) to downloads.php.net, in your homedir there should be a directory public_html/. Copy them into there. If you do not have this directory, create it.

  14. Now the RC can be found on https://downloads.php.net/~yourname, e.g. https://downloads.php.net/~derick/.

  15. Once the release has been tagged, contact the release-managers@ distribution list so that Windows binaries can be created. Once those are made, they can be found at https://windows.php.net/download.

Announcing a non stable release (alpha/beta/RC)

  1. Update web-qa:include/release-qa.php with the appropriate information. See the documentation within release-qa.php for more information, but all releases and RCs are configured here. Only $QA_RELEASES needs to be edited.

    Example: When packaging an RC, set the rc with appropriate information for the given version.

    Note: Remember to update the sha256 checksum information.

  2. Skip this step for non-stable releases after GA of minor or major versions (e.g. announce 7.4.0RC1, but not 7.4.1RC1):

    Add a short notice to web-php stating that there is a new release, and highlight the major important things (security fixes) and when it is important to upgrade.

    • Call php bin/createNewsEntry in your local web-php checkout. Use category "frontpage" and "releases" for all stable releases. Use category "frontpage" for X.Y.0 non-stable releases only (news only).

    • Add the content for the news entry. Be sure to include the text:

      "THIS IS A DEVELOPMENT PREVIEW - DO NOT USE IT IN PRODUCTION!"
      
  3. Commit and push changes to qa and web.

    Wait for web and qa sites to update with new information before sending announce.

  4. Send separate emails To internals@lists.php.net and php-general@lists.php.net lists pointing out "the location of the release" and "the possible release date of either the next RC, or the final release". Include in this information the verification information output by gen_verify_stub.

  5. Send separate emails (see example http://news.php.net/php.pear.qa/5201) To php-qa@lists.php.net and primary-qa-tester@lists.php.net. These emails are to notify the selected projects about a new release so that they can make sure their projects keep working. Make sure that you have been setup as a moderator for primary-qa-tester@lists.php.net by having someone (Hannes, Dan, Derick) run the following commands for you:

    ssh lists.php.net
    sudo -u ezmlm ezmlm-sub ~ezmlm/primary-qa-tester mod moderator-email-address
  6. For RCs, post tweet with release announcement (and link to news article on php.net) (@official_php)

Packaging a stable release

  1. Checkout your release branch, you should have created when releasing previous RC and bump the version numbers in main/php_version.h, Zend/zend.h, configure.ac and possibly NEWS.

  2. If a CVE commit needs to be merged to the release, then have it committed to the base branches and merged upwards as usual (e.g. commit the CVE fix to 7.2, merge to 7.3, 7.4 etc...). Then you can cherry-pick it in your release branch. Don't forget to update NEWS manually in an extra commit then.

  3. Commit those changes. Ensure the tests at https://travis-ci.com/php/php-src/builds are still passing.

  4. Run the scripts/dev/credits script in php-src and commit the changes in the credits files in ext/standard.

  5. Compile and run make test, with and without ZTS, using the right Bison and re2c version (for PHP 7.4, minimum Bison 3.0.0 and re2c 0.13.4 are used).

  6. Check ./sapi/cli/php -v output for version matching.

  7. Tag the repository with the version e.g. git tag -u YOURKEYID php-7.4.1

  8. Push the tag e.g. git push origin php-7.4.1.

  9. Run: ./scripts/dev/makedist php-7.4.1, this will export the tag, create configure and build three tarballs (gz, bz2 and xz). Check if the pear files are updated (phar). On some systems the behavior of GNU tar can default to produce POSIX compliant archives with PAX headers. As not every application is compatible with that format, creation of archives with PAX headers should be avoided. When packaging on such a system, the GNU tar can be influenced by defining the environment variable TAR_OPTIONS='--format=gnu'.

  10. Run scripts/dev/gen_verify_stub <version> [identity], this will sign the tarballs and output verification information to be included in announcement email.

  11. Commit and push all the tarballs and signature files to web-php-distributions, then update the git submodule reference in web-php:

    git submodule init
    git submodule update
    cd distributions
    git fetch
    git pull --rebase origin master
    cd ..
    git commit distributions
    git push

    This is to fetch the last commit id from web-php-distributions and commit this last commit id to web-php, then, website will now sync.

  12. Once the release has been tagged, contact release managers, Windows builders, and package maintainers so that they can build releases. Do not send this announcement to any public lists.

Announcing a stable release

  1. Update web-php:include/releases.inc with the old release info (updates the download archives).

    • You can run php bin/bumpRelease 7 4 where the first number is the major version, and the second number is the minor version (7.4 in this example).

    • If that fails for any non-trivially fixable reason, you can manually copy the old information to include/releases.inc.

  2. Update $data['X.Y'] in web-php:include/version.inc (X.Y=major.minor release, e.g. '8.0'):

    • version to the full version number (e.g. '8.0.1')
    • date to the release date in j M Y format (e.g. '5 Jan 2021')
    • tags array should include security if this is a security release
    • sha256 array and sub-elements for all SHA256 sums
  3. Create the release file (releases/x_y_z.php):

    Optionally use bin/createReleaseEntry -v x.y.z -r to create a standard announcement template for this and step 6. Add --security for a security release.

    Usually we use the same content as for point 6, but included in php template instead of the release xml.

    Edit the generated files to expand on the base message if needed.

  4. Update web-qa:include/release-qa.php and add the next version as an QARELEASE (prepare for next RC). Keep active => true until there will be no more QA releases. Setting the release number to 0 is sufficient to remove the old QA release from the available QA releases list.

  5. Update the ChangeLog file for the given major version

    e.g. ChangeLog-7.php from the NEWS file

    • You may want to try web-php:bin/news2html to automate this task.

    • Go over the list and put every element on one line.

    • Check for &, < and > and escape them if necessary.

    • Remove all the names at the ends of lines.

    • For marking up, you can do the following (with vi):

      I. s/^- /<li>/

      II. s/$/<\/li>/

      III. s/Fixed bug #\([0-9]\+\)/<?php bugfix(\1); ?>/

      IV. s/Fixed PECL bug #\([0-9]\+\)/<?php peclbugfix(\1); ?>/

      V. s/FR #\([0-9]\+\)/FR <?php bugl(\1); ?>/

  6. Add a short notice to web-php stating that there is a new release, and highlight the major important things (security fixes) and when it is important to upgrade.

    • Call php bin/createReleaseEntry -v <version> [ --security ] in your local web-php checkout.
  7. Commit and push all the changes to their respective git repos

  8. Check website has been synced before announcing or pushing news

    Try, e.g. https://www.php.net/distributions/php-7.4.0.tar.xz

    Website may update slowly (may take an hour).

  9. Please note down the sha256 and the PGP signature (.asc). These must be included in the release mail.

  10. Wait an hour or two, then send a mail to php-announce@lists.php.net, php-general@lists.php.net and internals@lists.php.net with a text similar to http://news.php.net/php.internals/17222. Please make sure that the mail to php-announce@ is its own completely separate email. This is to make sure that replies to the announcement on php-general@ or internals@ will not accidentally hit the php-announce@ mailinglist.

  11. Post tweet with release announcement and link to news article on php.net (@official_php)

Re-releasing the same version (or -pl)

  1. Commit the new binaries to web-php-distributions

  2. Update $data['X.Y'] in web-php:/include/version.inc (X.Y=major.minor release, e.g. '8.0'):

    • version to the full version number (e.g. '8.0.1-pl1')
    • date to the release date in j M Y format (e.g. '9 Jan 2021')
    • tags array should include security if this is a security release
    • sha256 array and sub-elements for all SHA256 sums
  3. Add a short notice to web-php stating that there is a new release, and highlight the major important things (security fixes) and when it is important to upgrade.

    • Call php bin/createReleaseEntry -v <version> [ --security ] in your local web-php checkout.
  4. Commit all the changes (include/version.inc, archive/archive.xml, archive/entries/YYYY-MM-DD-N.xml).

  5. Wait an hour or two, then send a mail to php-announce@lists.php.net, php-general@lists.php.net and internals@lists.php.net with a text similar to the news entry.

    Please make sure that the mail to php-announce@ is its own completely separate email. This is to make sure that replies to the announcement on php-general@ or internals@ will not accidentally hit the php-announce@ mailinglist.

Forking a new release branch

  1. One week prior to cutting X.Y.0RC1, warn internals@ that your version's branch is about to be cut. Try to be specific about when the branch will be cut.

    Example: http://news.php.net/php.internals/99864

  2. Just prior to cutting X.Y.0RC1, create the new branch locally.

    Add a commit on master after the branch point clearing the NEWS, UPGRADING and UPGRADING.INTERNALS files, updating the version in configure.ac (run ./configure to automatically update main/php_versions.h, too) and Zend/zend.h. Bump the default initial version also in win32/build/confutils.js.

    Also list the new branch in CONTRIBUTING.md.

    Bump API version numbers in Zend/zend_extensions.h, Zend/zend_modules.h, and main/php.h.

    Example: https://github.com/php/php-src/commit/a63c99ba624cff86292ffde97089428e68c6fc10

    Push the new branch and the commit just added to master.

  3. Immediately notify internals@ of the branch cut and advise the new merging order. Example:

    http://news.php.net/php.internals/99903

  4. Update web-php:git.php and https://wiki.php.net/vcs/gitworkflow to reflect the new branch. Example:

    https://github.com/php/web-php/commit/74bcad4c770d95f21b7fbeeedbd76d943bb83f23

Preparing for the initial stable version (PHP X.Y.0)

  1. About the time you release the first RC, remind the documentation team (phpdoc@lists.php.net) to write the migration guide. See to it that they have done it before you release the initial stable version, since you want to link to it in the release announcements.

  2. Timely get used to the differences in preparing and announcing a stable release.

  3. Before releasing X.Y.0, merge the NEWS entries of the pre-releases, so that there is only a single section about PHP X.Y.0, instead of individual sections for each pre-release.

Prime the selection of the Release Managers of the next version

This should be done by one of the release managers of the latest release branch:

  1. About three months before the scheduled release of the first alpha of the next minor or major release, issue a call for volunteers on internals@lists.php.net (cf. http://news.php.net/php.internals/98652).

  2. Make sure that there are two or more volunteers, and hold a vote if necessary (see https://wiki.php.net/rfc/releaseprocess#release_managers_selection).

  3. Help the new release managers with their first steps.

New Release Manager Checklist

  1. Email systems@php.net to get setup for access to downloads.php.net and to be added to the release-managers@ distribution list.

  2. Request membership to the Release Managers group on GitHub.

  3. Create a GPG key for your @php.net address and publish it by editing include/gpg-keys.inc in the web-php repository, adding the output of gpg --fingerprint "$USER@php.net". Let one or more of the previous RMs sign your key. Publish your public key to pgp.mit.edu with: gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --send-keys $KEYID Add new keys in the php-keyring.gpg in distribution repository using: gpg2 --export --export-options export-minimal --armor <all RM keys>

  4. Request moderation access to php-announce@lists.php.net and primary-qa-tester@lists.php.net lists, to be able to moderate your release announcements. All the announcements should ideally be sent from the @php.net alias. Note, that for sending emails as @php.net alias a custom SMTP server needs to be used.