Installing PHP 5.3 using MacPorts

I stopped using macports ages ago, if you aren’t using vagrant or something similar then you probably want to check out homebrew as an alternate mac package manager.

I’ve read a few posts on how to installed PHP on my mac using macports, but quite a few seem out of date or incomplete. I hope this is a guide on how I think it should be done from start to finish using easier to understand small steps.


28/08/09: Now works with Snow Leopard and this post has been updated reflect the latest variant changes to the PHP 5.3 install

03/09/09: Typo fixes and corrections from feedback

22/07/11: Updates for installing on OS-X 10.7 Lion

What? But my mac comes with PHP & Apache!

Well the first question should really be why use MacPorts instead of using the Apache/PHP that comes with OS-X. Basically the answer to that is that by default it’s not really setup for serious developer use, just the average end user who wants to play around with a script of hack together a small website. You could also use MAMP, but personally I don’t think it give me the level of control that I need as I try and develop with an environment as close to my production system that I can (i.e. a base unix environment). MAMP also hasn’t been updated for a while! Once you’re fully setup with MacPorts updating is a breeze and as the whole system has been compiled onto your machine in theory it should be a lot faster than a prebuilt universal binary.

Pre-Configure: Turn off the default web server

So the first thing you should do is to turn off Apache…

This is pretty simple, go to System Preferences, type Apache in it’s spotlight. It will highlight Sharing, but you just need to press return. Just make sure Web Sharing is disabled.

Setting up MacPorts

Install Xcode

Next you must make sure you’ve installed Apple’s Xcode Developer Tools (version 4.1 for Lion, version 3.1 or later for Leopard, or 2.4.1 or later for Tiger), found on the Mac App Store or at the Apple Developer Connection site or on your Mac OS X installation CDs/DVD. This basically installs a more complete unix developer base with compilers are other useful stuff needed for MacPorts.

Install MacPorts

After installing Xcode you can download and install MacPorts. The best way to install it is to use the DMG installer on the MacPorts site. On the other hand if you want to compile it from source then follow these steps:

Open up the Terminal

svn co
cd base
sudo make install

I recommend whichever way you install macports you should run this command to make sure everything is up to date:

sudo /opt/local/bin/port -v selfupdate

If nothing as gone wrong so far then you should have MacPorts fully setup. Only one more thing to do before installing PHP/MySQL and Apache

Update your system paths

Just so I don’t have to keep on typing /opt/local/bin all the time i’m going add that directory to my PATH. This information can be stored in your .profile which runs every time you start a new terminal. If you don’t have a .profile file use these steps to create one:

cd ~
echo 'export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH' >> .profile

and that’s that. If you open a new terminal window (yes do that now) then those directories will be searched for terminal commands before the ones in the default path.

Setting up the LAMP stack

Enable SSL – if you want to!

Before installing PHP, i’m going to make sure that the version of curl installed is compiled with SSL enabled. If you don’t need or care about SSL then you can safely skip this step.

sudo port install curl +ssl

You should note that regardless if you run the command above first or one of the ones below then MacPorts will download a whole bunch or ports that are required to install that port or one of its dependencies. Also these commands may take sometime, so give it a while or go make a cup a tea.

Install MySQL

This one is fairly simple, well kind of…

sudo port install mysql5-server

Note: a lot of blogs recommend installing just the mysql5 port, but if you want the option to have MySQL start automatically at startup you’ll want to install the server. The mysql5-server port installs the mysql5 port anyway, so you can’t lose!

If you want to run MySQL at startup then run this command after the port finishes installing

sudo port load mysql5-server

Finally to make sure that the database if fully setup you must run this command (before starting up any mysql process!)

sudo -u _mysql mysql_install_db5

And make sure you pay attention to its instructions! Personally I didn’t do anything here as this is a development setup for me, so I prefer to keep my settings loose. Although if you want MySQL commands in your terminals path (like port) then run these commands and start a new terminal:

cd ~
echo 'export PATH=/opt/local/lib/mysql5/bin:$PATH' >> .profile

Create /opt/local/etc/mysql5/my.cnf, add the following to it and save

[mysqld_safe] socket = /tmp/mysql.sock

Also to remain compatible with other programs that may have been coded to look for the socket file in its original location then add this symbolic link:

sudo ln -s /tmp/mysql.sock /opt/local/var/run/mysql5/mysqld.sock

Install PHP & Apache

Ok we’re finally installing PHP with MySQL support and Apache (FastCGI is just being installed separately for use with some debugging and profiling tools).

sudo port install php5 +apache2 +pear +fastcgi php5-mysql +mysqlnd

Like MySQL if you want Apache to start automatically when you start your computer then run this command after the port installs (as shown while the ports are installing)

sudo port load apache2

Configure PHP

To customize php, copy /opt/local/etc/php5/php.ini-development (if this is a development server) or /opt/local/etc/php5/php.ini-production (if this is a production server) to /opt/local/etc/php5/php.ini and then make changes (see below).

i.e. for development:

cd /opt/local/etc/php5/
sudo cp php.ini-development php.ini

i.e. for production:

cd /opt/local/etc/php5/
sudo cp php.ini-production php.ini

To customize php edit (using your favourite editor) /opt/local/etc/php5/php.ini to configure it properly, make sure you set the correct timezone (for myself it’s this):

date.timezone = Europe/London

Configure Apache

If this is your first install, you need to activate PHP in your web server.To enable PHP in Apache, run

cd /opt/local/apache2/modules
sudo /opt/local/apache2/bin/apxs -a -e -n "php5"

Open /opt/local/apache2/conf/httpd.conf in your favourite text editor (it’s vi for me, but feel free to use pico, emacs or whatever!).

sudo vi /opt/local/apache2/conf/httpd.conf

If you want to change the default MacPorts Apache document root to match default Apple’s Apache (personally I didn’t, but I found this information on another blog – so it might be useful to some), change:

DocumentRoot "/opt/local/apache2/htdocs"


DocumentRoot "/Library/WebServer/Documents"

If you changed the DocumentRoot, change the Directory directive from:

<Directory "/opt/local/apache2/htdocs">


<Directory "/Library/WebServer/Documents">

For PHP to work correctly you must add index.php to the dir_module directive:

<IfModule dir_module>
    DirectoryIndex index.html index.php

Add a new mimetype so that Apache will direct files ending in .php to the PHP module for processing. Add the following within the <IfModule mime_module> block. Without this, all you’ll see is the text of your PHP scripts

AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps

And finally, to enable user directories, uncomment:

Include conf/extra/httpd-userdir.conf

But if you are going to use virtual hosts (as described below) then uncomment this line in addition to (or instead of) the line above:

Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Save and close the httpd.conf file.

Advanced Post-Configuration

Configure Apache Virtual Hosts

Now unless you just want to access your new web server using http://localhost you might want to set up some virtual hosts for Apache. I personally only need one virtual host atm i.e. Virtual hosts need to be configured in two places, the hosts file (/etc/hosts) and the Apache virtual hosts file (/opt/local/apache2/conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf).

Firstly add this line to /etc/hosts after the localhost has been defined i.e.    localhost

Then you must edit the virtual hosts file /opt/local/apache2/conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf and add this configuration

<VirtualHost *:80>
    DocumentRoot "/opt/local/apache2/vhosts/"
    ErrorLog "logs/"
    CustomLog "logs/" common

The document root can be anything you want as long as apache has permissions to read that directory i.e. in this case you can:

sudo mkdir -p /opt/local/apache2/vhosts/
cd /opt/local/apache2/vhosts/
sudo chmod -R 755

You can do this process for as many virtual hosts as you want. Also I personally keep all my websites stored in my user directory – yes bad on a server, but this is my personal development machine. Finally don’t forget to comment out or remove the example vhosts from http-vhost.conf or you’ll get warnings while starting up Apache, they are harmless to leave in, but it’s probably for the best to remove any potential errors

Installing extra PHP modules

There are plenty of extra PHP modules available from MacPorts, you can get a list of them by using this command. Although you won’t need any of the MySQL ones as you’ve already compiled it into PHP.

port search php5-

Here is the list of PHP5 ports I installed

sudo port install php5-openssl php5-curl php5-gd php5-iconv php5-http php5-mcrypt php5-xdebug

Updating MacPorts

MacPorts is simple to update, every few weeks I just run the command below to check for any outdated ports (i’ll also update this post with any changes to this process I discover)

sudo port outdated

to update all installed ports to the latests and greatest

sudo port upgrade outdated

That’s It

Now if you restart your computer and add code into the document root of your website (in this case then you should have a fully working web server with PHP and MySQL. Ok it wasn’t easy, but for me it’s the best solution over the longer term

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