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Many people asked me to write about setting up Lighttpd under CentOS or RHEL 5 Linux using chroot() call. The instructions are almost same but you need to make little modification as compare to Debian / Ubuntu Linux instructions.

For example purpose we will build jail at /webroot location.
=> Default document root : /home/lighttpd/default/
=> Port : 80
=> IP: Your Public IP address
=> Virtual domain1: /home/lighttpd/vdomain1.com/
=> Virtual domain1 access log file: /var/log/lighttpd/vomain1.com/
=> Default access log file:/var/log/lighttpd/access.log
=> Default error log file:/var/log/lighttpd/error.log
=> Default php error log file: /var/log/lighttpd/php.log


These installation instructions assume you have:

  • Linux distribution
  • Required RPMs (see below for installation instructions)
    • php, php-pear, php-common, php-pdo, php-ldap, php-gd, php-cli, php-mysql
    • mysql, mysql-server etc
    • lighttpd, lighttpd-fastcgi (rpm available here)
  • Installations were tested on Red Hat Enterprise Linux v4/5 or CentOS v4/5 or Fedora Linux 7

Step # 1: Install required packages

Install php and related packages:
# yum install php php-pear php-common php-pdo php-ldap php-gd php-cli php-mysql
Install mysql and related packages:
# yum install mysql mysql-server
Install lighttpd and mod_fastcgi for lighttpd:
# rpm -ivh http://dag.wieers.com/rpm/packages/lighttpd/lighttpd-1.4.18-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm
# rpm -ivh http://dag.wieers.com/rpm/packages/lighttpd/lighttpd-fastcgi-1.4.18-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm

Step # 2: Create /webroot and related directories

# mkdir /webroot
# cd /webroot
# mkdir etc
# mkdir tmp
# chmod 1777 tmp/
# mkdir -p usr/bin
# mkdir -p home/lighttpd/default
# mkdir -p var/run/lighttpd
# mkdir -p var/log/lighttpd
# chown lighttpd:lighttpd var/run/lighttpd/
# chown lighttpd:lighttpd var/log/lighttpd/
# chown -R lighttpd:lighttpd home/

Step # 3: Install chroot script

You need to download and install my script that will help you to build lighttpd in jail:
# cd /sbin/
# wget http://www.cyberciti.biz/files/lighttpd/l2chroot.txt
# mv l2chroot.txt l2chroot
# chmod +x l2chroot

Step # 4: Install php in jail

Now copy php-cgi binary and related shared libraries using l2chroot script:
# cd /webroot/usr/bin
# cp /usr/bin/php-cgi .
# l2chroot php-cgi

Step # 5: Copy required files to /etc

Now you must copy php.ini and related all files to /etc/
# cd /webroot/etc
# cp /etc/passwd .
# cp /etc/group .
# cp /etc/hosts .
# cp /etc/nsswitch.conf .
# cp /etc/resolv.conf .
# cp /etc/php.ini .
# cp -avr /etc/php.d/ .
# cp -avr /etc/ld* .

Update (Oct-1-2008, 1:52pm) : You need to copy entire /etc/ and /usr/share/zoneinfo files to work with latest php version:
# cd /webroot/etc
# /bin/cp -avr /etc/* .

Copy all files from /usr/share/zoneinfo/:
# mkdir -p /webroot/usr/share/
# cd /webroot/usr/share/
# cp -avr /usr/share/zoneinfo/ .

Open group and passwd file and only keep entries for root and lighttpd user:
# vi /webroot/etc/group
Make sure file look as follows:

Also open passwd file inside jail:
# vi /webroot/etc/passwd
Make sure file look as follows:
lighttpd:x:100:101:lighttpd web server:/srv/www/lighttpd:/sbin/nologin

Step # 5: Copy php modules

Now copy php mysql support, php gd and other all modules:
# cd /webroot/usr/lib/
# cp -avr /usr/lib/php/ .
# cd php/modules
# for l in *.so; do l2chroot $l; done

Step # 6: Configure lighttpd chroot call

Open /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf file:
# vi /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf
Setup default document root and chroot directory:
server.document-root = "/home/lighttpd/default/"

Save and close the file.

Step # 7: Restart lighttpd

Type the following command:
# /etc/init.d/lighttpd restart

Jail size

# du -ch /webroot/

12K     /webroot/var/log/lighttpd
16K     /webroot/var/log
4.0K    /webroot/var/run/lighttpd
8.0K    /webroot/var/run
28K     /webroot/var
8.0K    /webroot/etc/ld.so.conf.d
36K     /webroot/etc/php.d
160K    /webroot/etc
8.0K    /webroot/home/lighttpd/default
12K     /webroot/home/lighttpd
16K     /webroot/home
5.3M    /webroot/lib
4.0K    /webroot/tmp
872K    /webroot/usr/lib/sse2
1.4M    /webroot/usr/lib/mysql
676K    /webroot/usr/lib/php/modules
4.0K    /webroot/usr/lib/php/pear
684K    /webroot/usr/lib/php
9.9M    /webroot/usr/lib
2.9M    /webroot/usr/bin
13M     /webroot/usr
19M     /webroot/
19M     total


Always go thought /var/log/messages and server log files:
# tail -f /var/log/messages

Download mysql testing script

Copy and test php mysql connectivity with this script.

Recently I've noticed that Redhat removed support for following php pear packages:

a) NET/SMTP : An implementation of the SMTP protocol

b) Mail : Class that provides multiple interfaces for sending emails

c) Net/Socke : Network Socket Interface

The simplest solution is downloading and installs these files from php pear repo.

Step # 1: Download files

Use wget command to download all files:
# cd /tmp
# wget http://download.pear.php.net/package/Mail-1.1.14.tgz
# wget http://download.pear.php.net/package/Net_SMTP-1.2.10.tgz
# http://download.pear.php.net/package/Net_Socket-1.0.8.tgz

Untar all files:
# tar -zxvf Mail-1.1.14.tgz
# tar -zxvf Net_SMTP-1.2.10.tgz
# tar -zxvf Net_Socket-1.0.8.tgz

Step # 2: Install files

Simply copy file to your webroot such as /www/usr/share/pear or standard location such as /usr/share/pear:
# cd /usr/share/pear
# mkdir Net
# cd Net
# cp /tmp/Net_SMTP-1.2.10/SMTP.php .
# cp /tmp/Net_Socket-1.0.8/Socket.php .
# cd ..
# cp -avr /tmp/Mail-1.1.14/Mail/ .
# cp -avr /tmp/Mail-1.1.14/Mail.php .

Step # 3: Test SMTP email

Now you have required files, all you have to do is send email using authenticated smtp server.

How to deal with common PHP database problems

Jack Herrington shows us how to fix the common problem. I never used php PEAR DB package, the idea sounds good.

FTA, "Discover five common database problems that occur in PHP applications -- including database schema design, database access, and the business logic code that uses the database -- as well as their solutions.

You can create database design, database access, and the PHP business logic code that sits on top of it in any number of ways, and you often end up getting it wrong. This article illustrates five common problems in database design, in the PHP code that accesses databases, and how to fix these problems when you see them..."

Read more at IBM developerworks...