I logged on today to find a very interesting and controversial article at DevShed.com (via this post) concerning the future direction of PHP. In short, the author surmises that the changes made to PHP 5, essentially making it more Java-like, are a step on the path to a Sun-influenced, if not owned, PHP. It presents some stark evidence, all circumstantial of course, that points to this direction, saying that “the long-lasting popularity of LAMP environments (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) will soon be replaced by SLOP environments (Sun, Linux, Oracle, PHP).”
I’m not sure whether I can agree with the author. However, he makes a good case, and it is definitely a troubling matter. I cannot imagine that the PHP Group, who have thus far seemed very committed to Open Source, would transfer the countless hours of hard work by developers to a corporate entity, giving it to them as their property. Furthermore, it is the PHP Group and not Zend that owns the copyright on PHP, the language. And, even if Zend sells the Zend Engine to Sun, and manages to somehow get the PHP Group to transfer PHP to them as well, there are versions of PHP still under an OSS license that can be taken by the developers and forked to maintain an open-source version, perhaps on parrot (as mentioned by Rasmus and others).
In summary, I don’t know what the future holds for PHP given this startling news, but perhaps Harry Fuecks, who also adds to the controversy discussion, summed it up best by saying, “I find the conclusion somewhat tabloid.” In short: it’s all hype.
Let’s keep PHP where it belongs: in the Open Source community.