PHP - Compiling and Installing PHP on Ubuntu

By Jack Szwergold • October 13, 2015

This cheat sheet was compiled based on some notes from my dealing with a client specific application that would only work well in PHP 5.1.6 due to GD library TrueType font support. This is in no way the most complete version of PHP 5.1.6 one can compile from source on a modern Ubuntu install, but it worked for the task. The notes can possibly applied to compiling other versions of PHP from source code, but not spending any time testing—and debugging—version specific quirks for this cheat sheet.

Preparation and prerequisite setup.

First, backup the already installed Apache PHP module.

Before you do anything else, create a backup of the already installed module by copying it like this:

sudo cp /usr/lib/apache2/modules/ /usr/lib/apache2/modules/

The name is derived from the PHP 5.3.10 version of that is currently available for installation on Ubuntu 12.04. Adjust name as needed but be sure to rename before compiling and installing so you are not left flying in the wind of this setup goes bad.

Next, install the PHP source code prerequisites and dependencies.

First, run aptitude update like this:

sudo aptitude update

Install the basics for the build:

sudo aptitude install build-essential debhelper fakeroot \
                      apache2 php5-gd php-pear libpcre3-dev bzip2

Next, install APC via Pecl like this:

sudo pecl install -f apc

Now install all of the required development libraries and other stuff:

sudo aptitude install apache2-threaded-dev \
                      libjpeg8 libjpeg8-dev libxml2-dev \
                      libz-dev libfreetype6-dev libpng12-0-dev \
                      libbz2-dev libgmp3-dev libpspell-dev \
                      php-gettext gettext \
                      mcrypt libmcrypt-dev \
                      pkg-config \
                      flex libfl-dev \
                      libmysqld-dev \
                      libcurl4-openssl-dev libcurl-dev

Then, set some library related symbollic links.

Set the PCRE library symbolic link for Ubuntu:

sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ /usr/lib/

Set the JPEG library symbolic link for Ubuntu:

sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ /usr/lib/

Set the PNG library symbolic link for Ubuntu:

sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ /usr/lib/

Set the MySQL library symbolic link for Ubuntu:

sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ /usr/lib/

Building PHP 5.1.6 from source.

Get the PHP source code and patch it.

First grab a compressed archive from an official ImageMagick source site:

curl -O -L

Then grab the PHP Suhosin patch:

curl -O -L

Now, decompress the PHP source code:

tar -xf ~/php-5.1.6.tar.gz

Then, decempress the PHP Suhosin patch:

gzip -d ~/suhosin-patch-5.1.6-0.9.6.patch.gz

Go into the PHP 5.1.6 source directory:

cd ~/php-5.1.6

With that done, apply the PHP Suhosin patch:

patch -p 1 -i ~/suhosin-patch-5.1.6-0.9.6.patch

Finally, create the PHP 5.1.6 install destination directory:

sudo mkdir -p /opt/php516-gd

Configuring, making and installing PHP 5.1.6.

Run this configure command:

./configure --prefix=/opt/php516-gd --with-iconv --with-jpeg-dir=/usr --with-png-dir=/usr --with-zlib-dir=/usr \
    --with-freetype-dir=/usr --enable-gd-native-ttf --with-gd --with-apxs2=/usr/bin/apxs2 \
    --with-pic --with-bz2 --with-gettext --with-pspell \
    --with-expat-dir=/usr --with-zlib --enable-exif --enable-ftp --enable-mbstring --with-gettext \
    --enable-magic-quotes --enable-sockets -enable-sysvsem --enable-sysvshm --enable-sysvmsg \
    --enable-track-vars --enable-trans-sid --enable-wddx --with-kerberos --enable-memory-limit \
    --enable-shmop --enable-calendar --enable-dbx --enable-dio --with-xml --enable-apc --enable-apc-mmap \
    --with-pcre-regex=/usr --enable-utf8 \
    --with-mysql=/usr --with-pdo-mysql=/usr --with-mcrypt=/usr \
    --with-gmp --with-curl --with-openssl

NOTE: If there are GMP, Curl and OpenSSL issues when running make, you can ditch the line with the --with-gmp --with-curl --with-openssl item at the end for now. Would be nice to know why GMP, Curl and OpenSSL chokes things. But not worth reseaching now

Once the configure process completes, run make:


Finally install it by running sudo make install:

sudo make install

After the module is installed, rename it to match its PHP version number; in this case PHP 5.1.6:

sudo mv /usr/lib/apache2/modules/ /usr/lib/apache2/modules/

Adjust Apache for the new PHP 5.1.6 module.

The edit the Apache PHP config to allow for easy switching between different versions.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/mods-available/php5.load

An example of what should be in the Apache2 PHP config:

# LoadModule php5_module        /usr/lib/apache2/modules/
LoadModule php5_module        /usr/lib/apache2/modules/

Set the php.ini file for PHP 5.1.6:

sudo cp ~/php-5.1.6/php.ini-dist /opt/php516-gd/lib/php.ini

Edit the php.ini file for PHP 5.1.6 if you need to:

sudo nano /opt/php516-gd/lib/php.ini

And with that done, you can restart Apache like this to get the new module loaded in as expected:

sudo service apache2 restart

If that all went well, checking with phpinfo() command should show you now have PHP 5.1.6 running on your Apache web server.

How to turn off FreeType hinting in PHP GD 2.0 and lower.

If you’re interested in turning off FreeType hinting in the source code, search for the following line in the GD source code file named gdft.c:

err = FT_Load_Glyph (face, glyph_index, FT_LOAD_DEFAULT);

And replace that line with this one:

err = FT_Load_Glyph (face, glyph_index, FT_LOAD_NO_HINTING);

How to turn off FreeType hinting in PHP GD 2.0.13:

sudo nano ~/php-5.1.6/ext/gd/libgd/gdft.c

Search for render_mode; should look like this:

int render_mode = FT_LOAD_DEFAULT;
int render_mode = FT_LOAD_RENDER;

Change to:

int render_mode = FT_LOAD_NO_HINTING;