PHPBuilder - The ABC's of PHP II - What do I need to make it work?

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The ABC's of PHP II - What do I need to make it work?

by: Peter Shaw
March 26, 2009

Welcome to part 2 in my 10 part series on the basics of the PHP web scripting language, in the last part I introduced you to PHP (and to your author) : In this part of the series I'm going to show what you need in order to start developing using PHP.

What platforms does PHP run on?

PHP runs on all the major computing platforms available today, this includes all versions of windows, all the major linux distro's and a lot of specialist systems for devices like the Cobalt Raq and a lot of embedded devices.
In this article however we will be concentrating on running PHP under the Apache and IIS web servers, which between the two covers approx 95% of the systems most people will have access to.
Installing PHP under Linux
Most distro's will have a ready made option at install time to add PHP and Apache, or they will usually have an option in your systems package installer, unfortunately there are a number of different systems in use here and it's not practical to try and cover each one.
There is however light at the end of the tunnel. Most of today's distro's fall into either a 'Red Hat' style system or a 'Debian' style system. This means that there are 2 distinct package management systems making it quite easy to add new software. Unfortunately you'll have to use the command line.
If you have a Red Hat system, then you'll use the RPM program to manage your packages, from your distro's desktop find the option to launch a 'Konsole' (KDE) or an 'XTerminal' or something similar. The option your looking for may be labelled 'Shell' or 'Command Line'.
Once you have a window open, you'll very likely see something that looks like:
Once you have this then your ready to start typing commands. First off try just typing 'rpm' (without the quotes) and press return.
If you get some kind of error message about rpm not being found, then it's likely that you have a Debian style system in which case try typing 'apt-get' (again without the Quotes) and press return. If you get a screen full of text, then you have a Debian system.

Installing the Actual Software

Now that we know what kind of system we have, we can now use the appropriate system commands.
We can check if we have PHP and/or apache installed by using the following :

$ rpm -q -a | grep php
Or for Debian/Ubuntu
$ dpkg -l | grep php
(dpkg is part of the 'apt-get' system)

On my 2 test systems, I get the following:

shawty@netfinity:~> rpm -q -a | grep php
shawty@netfinity:~> rpm -q -a | grep apache


shawty@poweredge:~$ dpkg -l|grep php
ii  libapache2-mod-php5  5.2.3-1ubuntu6.5   server-side, HTML-embedded scripting language
shawty@poweredge:~$ dpkg -l|grep apache
ii  apache2              2.2.4-3ubuntu0.1   Next generation, scalable, extendable web se
The above commands will list all software in the machine, but only show those entries which match (or grep) the search term. As a result you can see that I have both apache and mod_php installed on both machines. If you don't have them already installed then you can normally do the following to add them…
For RPM, go to the apache and php websites at and respectively. Download the rpm package for your particular linux distro, save this to a folder on your linux system where you can access it from your terminal window. Once you have downloaded the file switch to your terminal and type 'rpm -i <filename>' replacing the <filename> with the name of the file you downloaded.
If all goes well you should find that all installs ok, and that RPM resolves any other missing packages. I would however strongly suggest that you use that to install 'apache2' and 'mod_php5'.
Under Debian/Unbuntu things are so much simpler:
$ sudo apt-get install apache2
$ sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5
The package names 'libapache2-mod-php5' and 'apache2' may be different, depending on the distro's naming rules, again if you know how to use your package manager, then it's strongly advised that you use that.

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