After months of anticipation, PHP 5.0 has finally
arrived. This latest rewrite of what was always an extraordinarily
full-featured scripting language has a bunch of changes that will endear it to
both novice and experienced programmers: a built-in SQLite database, more
consistent implementation of the XML API through libxml2, a redesigned object
model, and a brand-new Zend Engine.

You definitely want to begin using PHP 5.0 for your development
activities. And since you’re going to have to compile and install it anyway,
why not upgrade your entire LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) development
environment? After all, there have been a series of new releases over the past
few months: MySQL 4.1.3, with support for character sets, collations, subqueries,
and transaction savepoints; Apache 2.0 is stable; and your Linux vendor almost
certainly has a new distro you’re dying to try out.

I’m going to run you through the process of setting up a
cutting-edge development environment for Web scripting with PHP, using PHP 5.0,
Apache 2.0, and MySQL 4.1.3. Start your terminals and warm up the compilers. Let’s get going!

The basics

I’m assuming that you already have a version of Linux
installed and it’s operational. Make sure you have a working C compiler, or you
won’t be able to proceed.

You also need to make sure you have downloaded all the
relevant software:

  • The
    latest binary version of MySQL (currently MySQL 4.1.3-beta), available
  • The
    latest version of PHP (currently PHP 5.0.0), from
  • The
    latest version of Apache 2 (currently Apache 2.0.50), from

Important note: As of this writing, the combination of
Apache 2.0 and PHP 5.0 is not completely thread-safe and should not be used together in
high-volume production systems. However, the combination should be fine for development

You may also need the following support libraries:

  • The
    latest libxml2 library (currently libxml2 2.6.11), from
  • The
    latest zlib library (currently zlib 1.2.1), from

Copy all of these to your /tmp directory and decompress them as

$ cd /tmp
$ tar -xzvf mysql-standard-4.1.3-beta-pc-linux-i686.tar.gz
$ tar -xzvf php-5.0.0.tar.gz
$ tar -xzvf httpd-2.0.50.tar.gz
$ tar -xzvf libxml2-2.6.11.tar.gz
$ tar -xzvf zlib-1.2.1.tar.gz

Installing the support libraries

First, check if you need to install libxml2 or zlib. PHP 5.0
requires libxml2 2.6.0 (or better) and zlib 1.0.9 (or better). If you don’t have
both of these, keep reading; otherwise, skip to the next section.

To begin, compile and install the libxml2 XML parser, which
provides the base for the new XML API in PHP 5.0:

$ cd /tmp/libxml2-2.6.11
$ ./configure
$ make && make install

At the end of this, libxml2 should be installed under
/usr/local/. If you want this installed elsewhere, you should specify the –prefix option to the configure script in the previous step.

Next, do the same for zlib, which provides compression
services for a number of extensions:

$ cd /tmp/zlib-1.2.1
$ ./configure
$ make && make install

At the end of this, zlib should also be installed under
/usr/local/. As before, you can use the –prefix
option to install it somewhere other than the default.

Installing MySQL

With the support libraries now available, we can proceed to
install MySQL. PHP 5.0 no longer comes with its own version of the MySQL client
library because of licensing conflicts (see the database documentation for more details), so to add MySQL
support to your PHP build, you have to link it against an already-existing
MySQL installation.

PHP 5.0 comes with a brand-spanking-new MySQL extension
called MySQLi (MySQL Improved), which supports all the new features in MySQL.
However, this extension is available only for MySQL 4.1.2 or better, which is
still in beta. You should use it only on development systems. If you’re
installing PHP on a production system, you can, of course, install an older,
more stable version of MySQL and use the older MySQL extension that doesn’t
support the new capabilities.

Detailed installation instructions for MySQL are provided in
the download archive, but here’s a fast recap:

  1. Move the decompressed MySQL archive to /usr/local/mysql.
  2. $ mv /tmp/mysql-standard-4.1.3-beta-pc-linux-i686
  3. Create a user and group for MySQL.
  4. $ groupadd mysql
    $ useradd -g mysql mysql
  5. Initialize the MySQL grant tables with the provided
    mysql_install_db script.
  6. $ /usr/local/mysql/scripts/mysql_install_db
    --user=mysql [/output]
  7. Give the MySQL user rights to the MySQL directory.
  8. $ chown -R root  /usr/local/mysql
    $ chgrp -R mysql /usr/local/mysql
    $ chown -R mysql /usr/local/mysql/data
  9. Start the MySQL server.
$ /usr/local/mysql/support-files/
mysql.server start [/output]

At this point, also check to make sure that the MySQL server
socket has been created in /tmp—it usually has a name like mysql.sock.

Installing Apache

There are two ways of using PHP with Apache: as a dynamic
module that can be loaded into the Web server at run-time, or as a static
module that is directly compiled into the Web server code. For this tutorial, I’m
going with the first option.

To enable dynamic loading of PHP as an Apache 2.0 module,
the Apache server must be compiled with Dynamic Shared Object (DSO) support.
This feature can be enabled by passing the –enable-so
option to the Apache 2.0 configure

$ cd /tmp/httpd-2.0.50
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/apache2 --enable-so $ make
&& make install

This should configure, compile, and install the server to

Installing PHP

With both MySQL and Apache installed, the final step is to
compile and install PHP. The most important step in this process involves
providing the PHP configure script
with a list of extensions to activate, as well as the correct file paths for
the external libraries needed. Listing A contains an example.

This might look gut-wrenchingly complicated, but it’s really

  • The –prefix argument sets the
    installation path for the PHP 5.0 binaries.
  • The –with-apxs2 argument tells PHP
    where to find Apache 2.0 and its apxs
    script (used to handle extensions).
  • The –with-libxml-dir and –with-zlib-dir arguments tell PHP
    where to locate the libxml2 and zlib libraries. Note that you need to
    use these options only if you compiled and installed the libraries yourself; if
    you’re using your distribution’s default libraries, PHP should be able to
    find them automatically.
  • The –with-mysql argument activates the
    regular MySQL extension. Note
    that in PHP 5.0, this is not active by default (as it was in PHP 4.0) and
    must be explicitly named in configure
    to be activated.
  • The –with-mysqli argument activates
    the new MySQL Improved extension (for MySQL 4.1.2+ only), and must point
    to the mysql_config script that
    comes with MySQL 4.x.
  • The –with-gd argument activates the GD
    extension for dynamic image creation.
  • The –with-zlib argument activates the
    ZLIB compression library for on-the-fly data compression.
  • The –enable-sockets argument activates
    socket communication features.
  • The –enable-soap argument activates
    support for SOAP and Web services.

A number of other options and extensions are also possible—try

$ ./configure --help

for a complete list.

Once the configure
script finishes processing, you can compile and install PHP.

$ make
$ make install

Note that the installation process is intelligent enough to
place the PHP module in the correct directory for Apache 2.0 to find it.

Configuring and testing Apache with PHP

Done? Well, not quite. The final step consists of
configuring Apache to recognize PHP scripts (named with the extension .php) and
then hand them over to the PHP interpreter for processing. To do this, edit the
Apache configuration file, /usr/local/apache2/conf/httpd.conf, and add the
following line to it:

AddType application/x-httpd-php .php

Save the file and then start the server:

$ /usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl start [/output]

Tip: You can add the command line above to your startup
scripts: /etc/rc.local is a good bet—so that the server starts automatically on
next boot.

You can now test whether all is working as it should by creating
a simple test script in the server’s document root: /usr/local/apache2/htdocs/.

Name the script test.php,
and populate it with these lines:


Save the file and then point your browser to http://localhost/test.php.

You’ll see a page containing information on the PHP build,
like this:

Figure A

In case you don’t see this, try troubleshooting
with the installation guide
. And if you do…well, your cutting-edge LAMP
environment is now good to go! Have fun!