A PHP Version Switcher for the AMP stack on OS X

A friend is thinking about buying MAMP Pro so he can test on different versions of PHP. Since I just set up version-switching myself, for free, here’s how I did it. Hopefully it’ll save someone a bit of money or frustration.

This is happening on a Mac, with the latest version of OS X, (Currently 10.11.3 El Capitan), using the pre-installed version of Apache, and Homebrew as a package manager.

Step 1: Install more than one version of PHP on your system

Using Homebrew you can install a version of PHP, then “unlink” it so it’s not currently being used:

brew install php7
brew unlink php7

If you want to be able to switch PHP versions on the command-line there’s a tool called PHP Version that does the heavy lifting for you, and with Homebrew it’s easy to install.

Step 2: Make it easy to change the PHP version Apache is using

First, stop the main Apache config, (/etc/apache2/httpd.conf), file from loading PHP. Find any line that mentions PHP modules and comment it out, (put a # at the beginning of the line). For example:

#LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/libphp5.so
#LoadModule php5_module /usr/local/opt/php56/libexec/apache2/libphp5.so

Now we need an Apache config file for each PHP version that you want to run. I’ve put these files in /etc/apache2/other/ and used the file extension “.conffile” to prevent Apache from auto-loading them:

A screenshot of /etc/apache2/conf/other

Each of your .conffile files needs to have the location of the PHP library, and any extra PHP info. This is the contents of my php-7.conffile:

LoadModule php7_module /usr/local/opt/php70/libexec/apache2/libphp7.so
<IfModule php7_module>
AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps
<IfModule dir_module>
DirectoryIndex index.html index.php

is very similar, but has the path of the PHP 5 .so file and the IfModule conditional checks for php5_module.

If you have any existing php*.conf files in /etc/apache2/other/ they can be blank.

Next we need to make an easy way to tell Apache to use one of the .conffiles, which I’ve  done by creating a symbolic link to the one I want to use. Since I don’t like typing out ln commands I’ve created a script, which I call php-v.sh.

if [ $1 = 7 ]; then
`sudo ln -Fs /etc/apache2/other/php-$PHP_VERSION.conffile /etc/apache2/other/php.conf`
`sudo apachectl graceful`
echo "PHP version switched to $PHP_VERSION"

This script symlinks /etc/apache2/other/php.conf to the .conffile that I want to use, (using the -F switch to overwrite the old symlink), and restarts Apache. It needs sudo so it’ll ask for your password.

Finally, it’s nice to have php-v.sh available from everywhere, so I’ve created a symlink from ~/bin/php-v, which is in my PATH, to the actual script:

ln -s /Users/John/Developer/Scripts/php-v.sh /Users/John/bin/php-v

And now I can switch PHP versions at will:A screenshot of my terminal, having just switched PHP versions quickly & easily!