Compile php on your own

This article contains a PHP build script and a quick tutorial on how to compile and setup php-5.[2-5].x version into your server. The article is intended for beginners and has detailed explanations for setting up dependencies and understanding in general how to modify it to your needs.


Before we begin:

Get sources

Go to PHP downloads, choose the version wanted and copy a link from a mirror you prefere. php-5.5.0 version will be used in current example.

mkdir ~/compile && cd ~/compile
wget -O - | tar jxf -

Change the url to your prefered source mirror, be sure a link points to an archive package. This should extract the download stream into ~/compile/php-5.5.0 directory. Based on your chosen version, this may differ.

If you prefer a tar.gz archive, an extraction command is different accordingly:

wget -O - | tar zxpf -

Prepare a build script

Since you most probably will want some extensions or apache support, it will be a convenient choice to create a configuration/build shell script for the php sources to be compiled the way we want. Etc.: you may wish to define an installation binary path and shared module location. Or later even have some incremental adaptions based on php version you are compiling.

I personally have 3 or 4 versions to switch during the development. One is for php extension development, another is for project which requires an older version, next one is the latest in order to grasp new features or use it for my own projects. This post will intentionally describe how to make such environment, so you can switch between php versions and compile the latest ones whenever needed.


You can use a different editor of course.


# usage - ./ php-5.5.0
# where php-5.5.0 is a PHP source directory

# current directory
DIR="$( cd "$( dirname "$0" )" && pwd )"

# requires a php source directory as a first argument
if [ ! -d "$1" ]
    echo "Php source is not a valid directory"
    exit 1

# Ubuntu users only, a quirk to locate libpcre
if [ ! -f "/usr/lib/libpcre.a" ]; then
    if [ -f "/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libpcre.a" ]; then
        sudo ln -s /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libpcre.a /usr/lib/libpcre.a
    elif [ -f "/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libpcre.a" ]; then
        sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libpcre.a /usr/lib/libpcre.a

# define full path to php sources

# Here follows paths for installation binaries and general settings
PREFIX="$HOME/php" # will install binaries in ~/php/bin directory, make sure it is exported in your $PATH for executables
SBIN_DIR="$HOME/php" # all binaries will go to ~/php/bin
CONF_DIR="$HOME/php" # will use php.ini located here as ~/php/php.ini
CONFD_DIR="$HOME/php/conf.d" # will load all extra configuration files from ~/php/conf.d directory
MAN_DIR="$HOME/php/share/man" # man pages goes here

EXTENSION_DIR="$HOME/php/share/modules" # all shared modules will be installed in ~/php/share/modules phpize binary will configure it accordingly
PEAR_INSTALLDIR="$HOME/php/share/pear" # pear package directory

if [ ! -d "$CONFD_DIR" ]; then
    mkdir -p $CONFD_DIR

# here follows a main configuration script
PHP_CONF="--config-cache \
    --prefix=$PREFIX \
    --sbindir=$SBIN_DIR \
    --sysconfdir=$CONF_DIR \
    --localstatedir=/var \
    --with-layout=GNU \
    --with-config-file-path=$CONF_DIR \
    --with-config-file-scan-dir=$CONFD_DIR \
    --disable-rpath \
    --mandir=$MAN_DIR \

# enter source directory
cd $SRC

# build configure, not included in git versions
if [ ! -f "$SRC/configure" ]; then
    ./buildconf --force

# Additionally you can add these, if they are needed:
#   --enable-ftp
#   --enable-exif
#   --enable-calendar
#   --with-snmp=/usr
#   --with-pspell
#   --with-tidy=/usr
#   --with-xmlrpc
#   --with-xsl=/usr
# and any other, run "./configure --help" inside php sources

# define extension configuration
EXT_CONF="--enable-mbstring \
    --enable-mbregex \
    --enable-phar \
    --enable-posix \
    --enable-soap \
    --enable-sockets \
    --enable-sysvmsg \
    --enable-sysvsem \
    --enable-sysvshm \
    --enable-zip \
    --enable-inline-optimization \
    --enable-intl \
    --with-icu-dir=/usr \
    --with-curl=/usr/bin \
    --with-gd \
    --with-jpeg-dir=/usr \
    --with-png-dir=shared,/usr \
    --with-xpm-dir=/usr \
    --with-freetype-dir=/usr \
    --with-bz2=/usr \
    --with-gettext \
    --with-iconv-dir=/usr \
    --with-mcrypt=/usr \
    --with-mhash \
    --with-zlib-dir=/usr \
    --with-regex=php \
    --with-pcre-regex=/usr \
    --with-openssl \
    --with-openssl-dir=/usr/bin \
    --with-mysql-sock=/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock \
    --with-mysqli=mysqlnd \
    --with-sqlite3=/usr \
    --with-pdo-mysql=mysqlnd \

# adapt fpm user and group if different wanted
PHP_FPM_CONF="--enable-fpm \
    --with-fpm-user=www-data \

# CLI, php-fpm and apache2 module
./configure $PHP_CONF \
    --disable-cgi \
    --with-readline \
    --enable-pcntl \
    --enable-cli \
    --with-apxs2=/usr/bin/apxs2 \
    --with-pear \

# CGI and FastCGI
#./configure $PHP_CONF --disable-cli --enable-cgi $EXT_CONF

# build sources

Note: if you compile php from git sources, you may need other dependencies

Ok, so which extensions we will have bundled together with php and what the config general stuff we need to know about:

NOTE: If you need CGI binaries, uncomment those instead.

Prepare used library dependencies

Install the general build tools, you will need GNU gcc compiler, libc and make. Ubuntu users: install dependent libraries:

sudo apt-get install abuild-essential apache2-threaded-dev apache2-mpm-prefork apache2-prefork-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev
sudo apt-get install libsqlite3-dev sqlite3 mysql-server libmysqlclient-dev libreadline-dev libzip-dev libxslt1-dev
sudo apt-get install libicu-dev libmcrypt-dev libmhash-dev libpcre3-dev libjpeg-dev libpng12-dev libfreetype6-dev libbz2-dev libxpm-dev

For other distribution users, install the general build tools, you will need GNU gcc compiler, libc and make. Look for libraries to install based on their names. When you compile PHP in case if header files will not be found, you will receive an error, googling it you should manage to find required libraries for installation on your specific distribution. Comment the last part of build script, which runs make, that should help to debug missing library headers faster. If you are willing to share, you can contribute by updating this blog post with a specific command line to install dependencies for other types of linux distributions.

Build sources and install

chmod +x
./ php-5.5.0

This build will take some time, if you think you managed dependent libraries, have a cup of coffee. Maybe two if you had problems with configuration.

Now if the job is done, and make did not throw a fatal error, congrats! you got it! All what is left is to setup your apache or nginx to run with our php build.

cd php-5.5.0 && sudo make install

Make sure your php binaries are in your $PATH

export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/php/bin

A better idea is to have it in your shell rc file:

echo "export PATH=\$PATH:\$HOME/php/bin" >> ~/.bashrc

Now you should be able to see a php version:

php --version

On ubuntu, after running make install it should have placed apache module in the right place. Also most probably has enabled it.

You should setup the default configuration file ~/php/php.ini:

;you may copy it from ~/compile/php-5.5.0/php.ini-production and adapt
;or trust php defaults and only override what you need:

error_reporting = E_ALL
display_errors = On
display_startup_errors = On

memory_limit = 256M
post_max_size = 32M
upload_max_filesize = 32M

date.timezone = UTC

;change it to suite your installation
include_path = ".:/home/gedi/php/share/pear"

Run on Apatche2

Create a php file /var/www/php-project/index.php:

sudo mkdir /var/www/php-project
sudo nano /var/www/php-project/index.php

With contents:


echo "Voila, running PHP script on " . phpversion();

Ensure that it is accessible for apache:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/php-project
sudo chmod -R 775 /var/www/php-project

Now lets create a virtual host:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/php-project

configure it as:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    DocumentRoot "/var/www/php-project"
    ServerName php-project.local

    ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/php-project-error.log
    CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/php-project-access.log combined

Now enable it and add host:

sudo a2ensite php-project
sudo service apache2 restart

Append a line php-project.local to /etc/hosts

Now open your browser at http://php-project.local or use wget You should see a result as “Voila, running PHP script on 5.5.0”

Run on Nginx

Install Nginx:

sudo apt-get install nginx

We will need rc init script, to make it more simple, lets use current ubuntu php-fpm package and make some replacements so that the paths would be correct, run these commands:

cd ~/php && aptitude download php5-fpm
dpkg-deb -x *.deb src
mv src/etc/init.d/php5-fpm php-fpm.init
mv src/etc/php5/fpm/php-fpm.conf php-fpm.conf
mv src/etc/php5/fpm/pool.d fpm.conf.d
sed s@/usr/sbin/\$NAME@${HOME}/php/\$NAME@ php-fpm.init > temp; mv temp php-fpm.init
sed s@php5-fpm@php-fpm@ php-fpm.init > temp; mv temp php-fpm.init
sed s@/etc/php5/fpm/php-fpm.conf@${HOME}/php/php-fpm.conf@ php-fpm.init > temp; mv temp php-fpm.init
sed s@/etc/php5/fpm/pool.d@${HOME}/php/fpm.conf.d@ php-fpm.conf > temp; mv temp php-fpm.conf

These commands have modified paths in order to work with our $HOME/php installation location. We could have used standard location as /etc/php, you can update script if you like it afterwards, all it would take is to recompile.

Now lets install our init.d script for php-fpm:

sudo cp ~/php/php-fpm.init /etc/init.d/php-fpm
sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/php-fpm

Now start the php-fpm service:

sudo service php-fpm start

you may also wish to add this service to automatically start on each boot;

sudo update-rc.d php-fpm defaults

We should have it running, check with:

ps aux | grep php-fpm

There should be around four threads running. For other distributions, you should find ways how to deamonize the php-fpm. Now lets proceed to Nginx virtual host, which will run our previously created /var/www/php-project. If you have skipped the apache2 part, add the php-project.local to hosts and create an index.php file in /var/www.

Next, create a virtual host config for Nginx server:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/php-project

Put the contents:

server {
    listen 80;
    server_name php-project.local;
    root /var/www/php-project;

    error_log /var/log/nginx/php-project.error.log;
    access_log /var/log/nginx/php-project.access.log;

    # first check if its a static file, otherwise run through @handler
    location / {
        index index.php;
        try_files $uri @handler;
        #expires 24h;

    # if it was not a static file, execute through index.php
    location @handler {
        rewrite ^(.*)$ /index.php last; # force index.php if it was not a file

    # pass the PHP scripts to fpm socket, NOTE: php-fpm required, otherwise use fastcgi
    location ~ \.php$ {
        fastcgi_pass          ;
        fastcgi_index                   index.php;
        include                         fastcgi_params;
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME   $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
        fastcgi_param HTTPS             off;

Now enable the site and run nginx

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/php-project /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/php-project
sudo service apache2 stop
sudo service nginx restart

And here you have it. Open the browser at http://php-project.local

Installation of additional php extensions

Now lets say at some point we need a mongodb in our project. Lets install php mongo db extension. If you do not have git yet, install it.

sudo apt-get install git mongodb autoconf
cd ~/compile
git clone git:// mongo
cd mongo
make install

Autoconf is needed for phpize. You may checkout mongo at a specific stable release version, that may be safer. In result, we should have a available at our module directory: ~/php/share/modules. Since we have compiled php5.5 there should be as well. This is a bundled php version of memory based cache. You may prefer to use it instead of apc, or memcached. Now lets hook the module:

echo "" > ~/php/conf.d/mongo.ini

You should have it available now.

echo "<?php echo 'hi, mongo version is: '.phpversion('mongo');" | php

You should have a similar output like “hi, mongo version is: 1.5.0dev”. You should understand now how to hook other extensions. Compiled php from sources gives you some advantages: