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PHP4 Installation Overview
by Julie Meloni 27 Oct 2000

Julie Meloni is a technical consultant for i2i Interactive and co-founder and technical guru of She will always trade sleep to write for Webmonkey.

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The long-awaited official release of PHP4 finally hit the streets in May, signalling a new era in server-side programming: a speedy, stable, customizable, "all hail open source" era. There are more than 400 new functions in PHP4: new database connectivity functions, more than 20 new array functions, integrated payment-processing functions, integrated cURL functions, and on and on. Just when you thought "I could use a function that does whatever," lo and behold, a function named whatever() pops up in the manual.

Along with the new functions, the speedy engine and native session support, there are now numerous ways to install PHP, depending on your platform and Web server. While some methods are more stable than others, here are some examples of how PHP is used on such non-Windows systems as:

  • a static or dynamic module for Apache
  • a static module for AOLServer and Roxen
  • an ISAPI module for Zeus
  • an NSAPI module for Netscape Enterprise Server
  • a CGI binary

While on Windows (95, 98, NT, 2K) you might find PHP in use as:

  • a CGI binary
  • a static module for Apache
  • an ISAPI module for IIS
  • an NSAPI module for Netscape Enterprise Server

In this article, you can choose one of two paths: Getting Up and Running (Windows), or Getting Up and Running (non-Windows). Each path provides a brief explanation of the installation possibilities, then takes you through a quick installation using Apache as the base Web server software. The Windows path takes you through an installation of the CGI version of PHP, and discusses the php.ini file and how to enable functionality through extensions. The non-Windows path focuses on utilizing the DSO (dynamic shared object) version of PHP and how to add or delete functionality as time goes on.

You might only need to travel down one of these paths for now, but a quick peak at the other option might be a good idea as well -- you never know when a well-rounded knowledge base will come in handy. You may have nothing but Windows servers now, but when your manager plops a Linux box into your lap and says "put PHP on this," you'll be that much further along.

That said, now's the time to pick your path that most meets your current needs and enjoy. No matter which adventure you choose, no one gets eaten by cave monsters. Once again, here are your choices:

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