I've just got a mail from the Technical Director at Blacknight pointing me to a post regarding PEAR availability on their shared hosting packages. However, it seems I am still having issues with the paths I was given for PEAR originally so am awaiting clarification.
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Just got a mail from frontline tech support pointing me at the original paths. Not overly helpful given I have just pointed out, they don't seem to work.
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So this long weekend I was busy getting up and running on Blacknight where I've taken out a Minimus hosting package to evaluate their service using my current personal project Lost & Found Pets Ireland after continued very disappointing service from my current main shared hosting provider Namesco (formally Register365).
All was going nicely as I configured my site using their very clear and intuitive control panel, I uploaded my site, set up and imported my database, set folder permissions and configured the email services with no real problem. However, I quickly realised that not everything in the garden was rosy. I use the excellent Pear library to abstract my database interactions and after quite a bit of experimentation and several emails to support I learned that while for PHP4, there is an accessible shared version of Pear, it does not include MDB2 and there is no accessible shared installation of Pear for PHP5.
Getting the paths to Pear for both versions of PHP took a couple of emails and at that point it would have been nice if they could have told me that the PHP5 version wasn't accessible due to open-basedirectory restrictions never mind that the PHP4 version didn't have MDB2 installed. After quite a few mails I established that they did not see prospects for making Pear more available which is pity and means my search for a replacement to Namesco for the majority of my shared hosting still continues. With increasingly complex demands being made on even more basic sites it is a great pity that Blacknight have taken this position given the quality of PEAR and how much it speeds up development time. They had no difficulty with me installing my own copy though for me, that's just one more headache as I have to monitor versions and particularly security issues now - tasks I feel should really be in Blacknight's domain.
I spent the best part of 2 hours on Sunday massaging the web based installer to get a working copy of PEAR with MDb2 and the MySQL driver installed. While the Pear installer ran without issue and installed MDB2 in the root of my webspace, the big problem came when I tried to install the MySQL driver as all the folders Pear created during installation were only read only to me and the web installer didn't have the correct version of the MySQL driver to match the version of MDB2 it installs so a manual install was required.
After a couple of tries I eventually figured out that I had to create all folders created by the Pear installer myself first to guarantee ownership and then install PEAR with the MDB2 option enabled and then manually install the corresponding MySQL driver. A time expenditure I could really have done without.
This doesn't leave me much hope of installing other really useful PEAR modules like Mail or XML-RPC and my search for a small developer friendly host continues...