How to use Codeship with Symfony2, phpspec and Behat

My coworkers and I at are really fond of phpspec and Behat. Yes, we must confess: we didn’t test much since a couple of months ago. We skipped the phpunit age and started right away with phpspec and Behat. We also like services, so instead of setting up (and maintain) our own CI server, we use Codeship. To be honest we fell in love with Travis, but that was a little bit to expensive for us. And so our search ended at Codeship.

There is some documentation on how to use it with php, but its not that in depth about phpspec and friends. Let’s start with phpspec, as this is pretty easy. I’m assuming you install phpspec and Behat as dev dependencies using Composer:


Now head over to and edit your projects configuration. Pick “PHP” as your technology (didn’t see that one coming). In the “setup commands” field we first select the desired php version:

Next install deps (I believe this line is placed there by default by the codeship guys):

Then add phpsec to the “test commands” field:

Et voila, phpspec should now be functioning. 🙂


Behat is a little bit more difficult. The first problem you need to solve is to get the MySQL credentials into your Symfony2 application. These are provided trough environment vars, but differ from the naming convention in Symfony2.

We start by changing our app/config/config_test.yml:

Now to let Symfony2 pick up the environment vars we have to follow the convention I just mentioned. This means that an environment variable with the name SYMFONY__TEST_DATABASE_USER will be recognised when building the container. But let’s start by adding a bash script to ease the setup of the testing environment (locally and Codeship). Call it and place it in the root of your project:

Then adjust your codeship setup commands and add:

Last but not least add the behat command to the test commands:

Things should be working now. Quickly enough you will run into the infamous xdebug “Fatal error: Maximum function nesting level of ‘100’ reached” error. Let’s fix this right away and add this in your setup commands:


So the complete setup commands dialog for phpspec and Behat together looks like this:

And the test commands like this:

Everything should be working fine now! To run your tests local don’t forget to first execute the bash script (notice the extra dot, it is required):

Happy testing! 😉

Slow initialization time with Symfony2 on vagrant

A few days ago we switched our complete infrastructure from hosting provider. Also we made the switch from CentOS to Debian. So we also got a new fresh development environment using Debian and Vagrant (and latest PHP and MySQL ofcourse :)).

We expected the new dev box to be fast, but the oppositie was happening: it was slow as hell. And when I mean slow as hell, it’s terribly slow (10 – 20 seconds, also for the debug toolbar). In the past we had some more problems with performance on VirtualBox and Vagrant. There are some great post out there on this subject (here and here) which we already applied to our setup. In a nutshell:

  • change logs and cache dir in AppKernel
  • use NFS share

The cause: JMSDiExtraBundle

After some profiling I discovered there were so many calls originating from JMSDiExtraBundle I tried to disable the bundle. And guess what: loading time dropped to some whopping 200ms!

The real problem was the way the bundle was configured:

This causes the bundle to search trough all your php files in those locations. Apparently in the old situation (php 5.3 and CentOS) this wasn’t as problematic as in the new situation (php-fpm 5.5, Debian).

Speed up your data migration with Spork

One of the blogs I like to keep an eye on is Kris Wallsmith his personal blog. He is a Symfony2 contributor and also author of Assetic and Buzz. Last year he wrote about a new experimental project called Spork: a wrapper around pcntl_fork to abstract away the complexities with spawning child processes with php. The article was very interesting, although I didn’t had any valid use case to try the library out. That was, until today.

It happens to be we were preparing a rather large data migration for a application with approximately 17,000 users. The legacy application stored the passwords in a unsafe way – plaintext – so we had to encrypt ’em al during the migration. Our weapon of choice was bcrypt, and using the BlowfishPasswordEncoderBundle implementing was made easy. Using bcrypt did introduce a new problem: encoding all these records would take a lot of time! That’s where Spork comes in!

Setting up the Symfony2 migration Command

If possible I wanted to fork between 8 and 15 processes to gain maximum speed. We’ll run the command on a VPS with 8 virtual cores so I want to stress the machine as much as possible ;). Unfortunately the example on GitHub as well on his blog didn’t function any more so I had to dig in just a little bit. I came up with this to get the forking working:

The command generates the following output:

Make it a little bit more dynamic

To be really useful I’ve added some parameters so we can control the behavior a little more. As I mentioned before I wanted to control the amount forks so I added a option to control this. This value needs to be passed on to the constructor of the ChunkStrategy:

I also added a max parameter so we can run some tests on a small set of users, instead of the whole database. When set I pass it on to the setMaxResults method of the $query object.

Storing the results in MySQL: Beware!

In Symfony2 projects storing and reading data from the database is pretty straight forward using Doctrine2. However when you start forking your PHP process keep in mind the following:

  1. all the forks share the same database connection;
  2. when the first fork exits, it will also close the database connection;
  3. database operations in running forks will yield: General error: 2006 MySQL server has gone away

This is a known problem. In order to fix this problem I create and close a new connection in each fork:

That’s basically it. Running this command on a VPS comparable with c1.xlarge Amazone EC2 server did speed up things a lot. So if you’re also working on a import job like this which can be split up in separate tasks you know what to do… Give Spork a try! It’s really easy, I promise.

UPDATE 2013-03-19
As stated in the comments by Kris, you should close the connection just before forking. Example of how to do this:

Symfony2 authentication provider: authenticate against webservice

The past few days I have really be struggeling with the Symfony2 security component. It is the most complex component of Symfony2 if you ask me! On the website there is a pretty neat cookbook article about creating a custom authentication provider. Despite the fact that it covers the subject pretty well, it lacks support for form-based authentication use cases. In the current Symfony2 project I’m working on, we’re dealing with a web service that we need to authenticate against. So the cookbook article was nothing more then a good introduction unfortunately.

Using DaoAuthenticationProvider as example

Since we don’t want to reinvent the wheel, a good place to start is by investigating the providers that are in the Symfony2 core. The DaoAuthenticationProvider is a very good example, and used by the default form login. We are going to add a few pieces of code, so we can use the listener and configuration settings. The only thing we want to change are the authentication itself and the user provider. If you take a look at the link above, you will see the only thing we need to change is the checkAuthentication method. But, a few more steps are needed in order to make things function correctly. Let’s begin! 🙂

We also need a UserProvider!

First things first: we need a custom user provider. The task of the user provider is load the user from a source so the authentication process can continue. Because a user can already be registered at the webservice a traditional database user provider won’t work. We need to create a local record for every user that registers or logs in and doesn’t have an account. So basically the user provider is only responsible for loading and creating a user record. In this example I save the user immediately when there is no record; probably you want to do this after authenticating.

The code for the use provider looks like this:

We add it to our services configuration in app/config/services.yml:

Creating the AuthenticationProvider

As I said earlier we are going to base our provider on the DaoAuthenticationProvider. In my bundle I created a new class called ServiceAuthenticationProvider. Like our example we are extending the abstract UserAuthenticationProvider. Besides the checkAuthentication method we also must implement the retrieveUser method. We inject the service through the constructor, so the class looks like this:

Note the call to $this->service->authenticate where the magic happens. The retrieveUser method receives a User instance from our user provider. Although this is not really clear in the code above, it will be after configuration in the service container. We use the configuration from the Symfony core and adjust it to our needs:

Please note the empty arguments. Look a bit strange, huh? These will be magically filled when the container is build by our Factory! This is a bit tricky, and the cookbook explains pretty wel, so I suggest to take a look there. We are extending the FormLoginFactory because we want to change it bit:

Add the builder in the Acme\DemoBundle\AcmeDemoBundle.php file:

Finally, change your security config:

The webservice-login key activates our authentication provider. The user provider is defined under providers as acme_provider with the corresponding service id.
I used the AcmeDemo bundle from symfony-standard repository, so you could just copy paste most of my code to see everything in action! Only thing you need to provide yourself is a dummy webservice.

Happy coding!

Western Digital Green Caviar WD10EADS and hdparm problems

A few weeks ago I ordered myself a new eco friendly home server. The machine will be acting as my content server: running samba, sabnzbd, nginx and mysql. Most of the time it will be idling, so my goal was to build a server with energy saving hardware. The old server already had a 1TB Western Digital Green Cavair drive in it which I bought in 2010. So I placed an order for the following parts:

  1. MSI H61M-P22 motherboard
  2. Intel Pentium G620
  3. Transcend JetRam JM1333KLN-2G
  4. be quiet! Pure Power L7 300W

Within a few days I received the whole shipment, and a few hours later my server was up and running again :). After installing and configuring Debian Squeeze I measured the power usage: 22 ~ 25 watt idle, not bad! I didn’t tweak anything at all, so I started my journey. Spinning down the disk after a period of idling was my next goal. For Linux users, hdparm is the tool which gets the job done. On Debian or Ubuntu all you need to do is:

To configure your drive you have to know its name. One way to figure that out is

Output on my system:

The /dev/sdb device is the USB key running the OS, while /dev/sda is my WD Green Caviar drive.
To set the spindown time all you have to do is:

Of course you should change the time out if you want. However, after waiting 25 seconds I did a status check:

What the? 🙁 It obviously didn’t work! After trying some more time outs I concluded it didn’t really work. Googling for my drive and hdparm I quickly found a lot of other people which ran in the same problem. Furthermore I discovered that Linux and the old Western Digital Green Caviar drives don’t play well with each other. To summarise: the drive puts heads into parking position after 8 seconds idle time! This causes a very high Load_Cycle_Count. To check this, you have to install the smartctl utility:

Then, check the S.M.A.R.T. data for you drive:

When issuing this command for a couple of minutes, I saw the number growing rapidly: every 3 minutes a new hit. Not good! 🙁

Fix the drive for Linux usage

Western Digital published a advisory about this problem. Basically we as Linux users are left in the dark. They provide a tool to reset of reconfigure the timeout, but it only runs on MS-DOS…

The good news is that the utility is present on the Ultimate Boot CD. Burn the ISO on a disc (or make a bootable USB key) and remove the timeout with:

After that you’re drive will pay attention to the settings provided by hdparm, and the Load_Cycle_Count won’t be growing that rapidly. The count on my server grows by 2 counts per day, instead of ~ 200! 🙂 And when the drives is standby my server consumes 18 ~ 20 watt!

How to create a VM with PHP 5.4 using Vagrant and Puppet

Everybody PHP developer who didn’t live under a rock the past few months must have heard of the upcoming release of PHP 5.4. Well, March 1 it was finally there: the official release of PHP 5.4!

Because it definately will take some time before we can install it with our favorite package manager, I decided to create a small Puppet manifest in combination with Vagrant that will build a virtual machine. Normally, you have to compile PHP from source in order to try it that quickly after it has been released. However, the nice dudes from compiled them already for us, and provide it via their repository. Nice! 🙂
Furthermore, Vagrant provides us a cool Ubuntu server image, ready to rock with Puppet. So, let’s get thing of the ground shall we? (pro tip: scroll all the way down to simply clone my git repository with all the code ;))


In order to get things running smoothly you have:

  1. Installed VirtualBox 4.1.x
  2. Installed Vagrant
  3. Some IDE for editing Puppet manifests (I prefer Geppetto)

Creating our project structure

Let’s start with creating a basic directory structure for storing our files needed. Fire up Eclipse/Geppetto and start a new project in your workspace. Create the following structure:

  • manifests
  • modules
    • php54
      • files
      • manifests
  • www

Writing the Puppet manifest

There are a few things we need to accomplish with Puppet, in chronological order:

  1. Add the repository to/etc/apt/sources.list
  2. Add the GPG key
  3. Run apt-get update
  4. Run apt-get install php5

Because we can bucket files to the VM easily with Puppet, I choose to supply a modified sources.list so Puppet takes care of copying it into the VM. Then, I download the GPG key with the famous wget utility and pipe it into apt-key. The exec call to apt-get update speaks for itself, and last but not least I tell Puppet to install the latest php5 package.

With the require directive I make sure that all commands are executed in the right order.

The contents of the init.pp file in the php54 module looks like this:

Also we create a sources.list file in the “files” directory (you could change the Debian mirrors):

Last thing I do is create the entry point for Puppet, namely the site.pp file in the manifests directory:

All I do is including the php54 module which will handle all the magic for us.

Creating the virtual machine

Now Vagrant comes in to use. Create a Vagrantfile in your project root with the following content:

I’m using a Debian Squeeze box from here, credits go to the original author. I’m making use of the VirtualBox shared folders. These are not really fast, but will do for testing purposes. If you want some more advanced sharing I suggest NFS or Samba if you are on Windows.

Now, all left to do is start the VM. Open up a terminal and do vagrant up in your project root:

Navigate to with your favorite browser and have some happy testing 🙂

For all the lazy people out there, you can start the box with just 3 commands:

How to use Symfony2 entities from a bundle in vendor/bundles

Today I was working on a bundle for generating invoices. Since we have some kind of invoice functionality in many projects in the past, my goal was to create a nice reusable bundle.
So I started with creating an empty bundle and moved it to /vendor/bundles/Netvlies/Bundle/InvoiceBundle.

With the app/console I started generating a entity for persisting particular data for an invoice:

This is still all pretty straight forward… so to complete this difficult task I tried to create to update the schema:

Hmmz, wtf? 🙁 For some obvious reason it was ignoring my new bundle outside the src structure? After some little investigation I discovered you have to add it to your ORM mapping like this:

Creating a CentOS 6.2 base box for Vagrant

One of the cool things I stumbled upon last year at the Dutch PHP Conference was Vagrant. After some little experimenting I was convinced: this is the right tool for our development environment!

Since we’re running CentOS at the web agency I work for, I soon started searching for a nice base box to build upon. Not satisfied by the boxes available, I decided to create a base box myself.
Today we decided to switch to CentOS 6 for all our new boxes, so I had to build a new image for our developers to build on with Puppet and Vagrant. Since I had this free hosting account from Combell sponsored at PHP Benelux Conference I thought it would be nice to give something back to “the community” by writing my first blog post :).

This tutorial assumes you have installed Virtual Box. First of all, we start with downloading an ISO image so we can install a fresh instance of CentOS. Pick a mirror nearby and download the right image. We’ll be using the netinstall ISO since we want to keep the size of the image as small as possible.
I hear you thinking: why doesn’t he use the minimal ISO if size matters? Believe me, the minimal is *really* minimal. Too minimal is you ask me!

While the ISO is downloading, let’s fire up Virtual Box and create a new virtual machine. Choose the name you want and set OS to “Linux” and version to “Red Hat”. Also create a virtual disk with the desired space and pick “Dynamically allocated”.
Once you’re done with creating the VM, don’t forget to disable audio and USB. Also make sure you set the base memory to something like 700 MB. Otherwise the GUI installer won’t work, and you get the text installer which is limited!


Next thing is to fire up the VM, and Virtual Box’s “First Run Wizard” will pop up. Pick the ISO you just downloaded and click “Start”. After it’s booted, choose the option for installation and hit “return”. If all went fine, the installer will pop up. A few things to keep in mind here:

  • disable ipv6
  • select HTTP installation method and enter a mirror nearby; for using the Dutch Leaseweb mirror like I did you enter “” (just replace the hostname with your preferred mirror’s hostname)

CentOS netinstall mirror

After the kernel is downloaded, you’ll see the GUI installer.
Follow the wizard and select partition layout (I use the default settings).
A few important things:

  • Set vagrant as the root password
  • Set vagrant-centos62 as hostname (Vagrant conventions)
  • In the software selection window make sure you choose minimal as the set, and also choose “Customize now” at the software selection:

Software selection screen

In the next window unselect all packages (only one is selected if I remember correctly). After that you’re done, and the wizard will start downloading and installing the box.

Once it’s done you’ll be prompted to reboot. Before rebooting, make sure you remove the netinstall ISO as CD attachment (in the “storage” settings). Also, to make things more easy during the configuration of our box forward the SSH port like this (select “Network,” “Adapter 1,” and then “advanced settings” and select “port forwarding”):
Port forwading settings Virtual Box
Now boot the VM (don’t forget to enjoy the new animated boot screen ;)).

Configuration for Vagrant

Once booted, connect to your VM via SSH:

Since there’s barely anything on the machine right now, I start with installing my favorite editor and some other stuff we’ll need:

Next we are going to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions. Click on your VirtualBox window and select “Devices” and “Install Guest Additions”. The option is in the VM window, and not in the VirtualBox control panel. Install them like this (ignore the erros you get, this is because we aren’t running any fancy GUI):

Because we’ll be provosioning the VM with Puppet, we start with downloading the EPEL RPM package:

Add it:

Verify with:

Then install Puppet:

I personally prefer installing Puppet with yum, but you could also install it via gems or any of the other methods on the official installation guide. Installing with yum auto resolves dependencies, and with CentOS 6 we don’t have an ancient Ruby version anymore ;).

In order to keep things speedy, add the following line to the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file (it will disable DNS lookups):

Add vagrant user and set permissions

We’re almost there. Only thing left to do is add the vagrant user so Vagrant can log in and build our box.
Start with creating the user and adding it to the “admin” group (set the password to vagrant as stated on the Vagrant base box documentation):

Now we only have to make some changes to the sudoers file. Do this with visudo (or manually edit /etc/sudoers, discouraged):

There are a couple of things that need to be changed:

  • Add SSH_AUTH_SOCK to the env_keep option
  • Find the line with Defaults requiretty and disable it by placing a # in front
  • Add the line %admin ALL=NOPASSWD: ALL so that the vagrant user can sudo without password

Last but not least we’re going to add the public key so Vagrant can easily SSH into our box. Login with the vagrant user:

Please note that I’m using the public insecure pair as described on the readme. If you’re not planning to share the box you probably want to use the config.ssh.private_key_path option in your Vagrantfile.

Package the box

Now first let’s clean up:

Shutdown the box and package it. Replace centos62-32 with the name of your VM:

Optionally you can also add a Vagrantfile into your base box.