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Compiling PHP for Development

2021-08-12 (last changed on 2022-01-08) by Lukas Winkler


This guide assumes that you will download the source to ~/php/source and install PHP to ~/php/php8. It should also work on all Linux/MacOS system assuming you have the right dependencies installed.

If you are using Debian/Ubuntu, you need to have the build-essentials installed.

➜  sudo apt install build-essential

Fetching source

The names of the directories of course change depending on which version of PHP you are installing

cd ~/php/source
➜  wget https://downloads.php.net/~ramsey/php-8.1.0beta2.tar.gz
➜  tar xzf php-8.1.0beta2.tar.gz
➜  rm php-8.1.0beta2.tar.gz

Configuration and Building

This assumes you are going to run PHP as your user (instead of www-data or similar as normaly in production).

Create a new file called build.sh inside the source directory with the following content:


set -e
set -x


mkdir -p $INSTALL_DIR

./configure --prefix=$INSTALL_DIR \
    --enable-bcmath \
    --enable-fpm \
    --with-fpm-user="$USER" \
    --with-fpm-group="$USER" \
    --disable-cgi \
    --enable-mbstring \
    --enable-shmop \
    --enable-sockets \
    --enable-sysvmsg \
    --enable-sysvsem \
    --enable-sysvshm \
    --with-zlib \
    --with-curl \
    --without-pear \
    --with-openssl \
    --enable-pcntl \
    --with-password-argon2 \
    --with-sodium \
    --with-zip \
    --enable-mysqlnd \
    --with-pdo-mysql \
    --with-pdo-mysql=mysqlnd \
    --enable-gd \
    --with-freetype \

This should enable all PHP modules Matomo needs to run. If you need more, adjust the lines above (and don’t forget to end them with a \)

Now run this script:

➜  chmod +x build.sh
➜  ./build.sh

Afterwards we can start compiling PHP:

➜  make
# or if you want to use 6 processes in parallel 
➜  make -j 6

You can now optionally run the tests (don’t worry if a few of them fail in beta versions)

➜  make test

And the last step is to install PHP to our INSTALL_DIR:

➜  make install

Run php-cli

You can now run php-cli from ~/php/php8/bin/php and also start the built-in server:

echo "<?php var_dump('Hello World!');" | ~/php/php8/bin/php 
string(12) "Hello World!"
➜  ~/php/php8/bin/php -S localhost:1234

If this is enough for you, you can stop here. Otherwise, continue with setting up php-fpm.

Set up php-fpm

If you want to use the compiled PHP version from your webserver (e.g. Apache or Nginx), you need to use php-fpm.

cd ~/php/php8
➜  cp etc/php-fpm.conf.default etc/php-fpm.conf
➜  cp etc/php-fpm.d/www.conf.default etc/php-fpm.d/www.conf
# adapt the two config files if needed

If you want to improve performance, you might want to increase pm.max_children, pm.start_servers and pm.max_spare_servers.

You can also create a lib/php.ini with custom settings:

display_startup_errors = Off
display_errors = Off
memory_limit = 512M

Now you can start php-fpm using

➜  ~/php/php8/sbin/php-fpm --nodaemonize

php-fpm will be listening on port 9000 by default.

Now you can update your webserver configuration to point to your php-fpm. How exactly this works, depends on your webserver. But in Nginx something like this will work:

location ~ \.php$ {
    include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
You have any feedback or ideas to improve this? Contact me on Social Media or per E-Mail. You can find my other projects at lw1.at.