How to Run Multiple PHP Versions with Apache on Ubuntu 18.04 / 16.04

How to Run Multiple PHP Versions with Apache on Ubuntu 22.04 / 20.04 / 18.04

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In this guide we will configure Apache to run PHP 8.x, PHP 7.x and PHP 5.6 simultaneously, and choose between them using Virtual Hosts or .htaccess.

Prerequisites

You should already have Apache installed and serving web pages before following this guide.

This guide was tested on Ubuntu 22.04, Ubuntu 20.04 and Ubuntu 18.04, though it should also be useful for other Debian-based systems.

If you need to install Apache on Ubuntu, please see:

1. Add Repository

The software-properties-common package is required to add Ondřej’s PHP repository, which will allow us to download co-installable versions of PHP.

sudo apt install software-properties-common -y
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php -y

Update repository:

sudo apt update -y

Next install libapache2-mod-fcgid. This starts a number of CGI program instances to handle concurrent requests.

sudo apt install libapache2-mod-fcgid

2. Install Multiple PHP Versions

You can now install the versions of PHP you require. 

As of writing, Ondřej’s repository provides PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 8.0, 8.1 and 8.2.

In this example, we will install PHP 5.6 and PHP 7.4.

You will also need to install the following packages for each PHP version.

  • phpX.X-fpm – Fast Process Manager interpreter that runs as a daemon and receives Fast/CGI requests.
  • phpX.X-mysql – This connects PHP to the MySQL database.
  • libapache2-mod-phpX.X – This provides the PHP module for the Apache webserver.

Install PHP 5.6 and associated packages. Press y and ENTER when prompted to install.

sudo apt install php5.6 php5.6-fpm php5.6-mysql libapache2-mod-php5.6

Install PHP 7.4 and associated packages. Press y and ENTER when prompted to install.

sudo apt install php7.4 php7.4-fpm php7.4-mysql libapache2-mod-php7.4

Once installed, you should have two new sockets in /var/run/php/.

ls -la /var/run/php/
total 8
-rw-r--r-- 1 root     root     4 Feb 17 16:50 php5.6-fpm.pid
srw-rw---- 1 www-data www-data 0 Feb 17 16:50 php5.6-fpm.sock
-rw-r--r-- 1 root     root     5 Feb 17 16:51 php7.4-fpm.pid
srw-rw---- 1 www-data www-data 0 Feb 17 16:51 php7.4-fpm.sock

In Step 3, we will use the <FilesMatch> directive to tell Apache which PHP socket to use.

Other Extensions/Libraries

Note that if you need any other libraries or extensions, they must be installed separately per PHP version.

The command below includes some of the most popular PHP extensions, which should cover a typical WordPress site.

Make sure to replace 7.4 with the version you require.

sudo apt install php7.4-common php7.4-mysql php7.4-xml php7.4-xmlrpc php7.4-curl php7.4-gd php7.4-imagick php7.4-cli php7.4-dev php7.4-imap php7.4-mbstring php7.4-opcache php7.4-soap php7.4-zip php7.4-intl -y

3. Start PHP-FPM Services

You must now start the FPM services per version of PHP you installed.

In this example, we will start PHP 5.6 first.

sudo systemctl start php5.6-fpm

Once started, check the status:

sudo systemctl status php5.6-fpm

Output:

 php5.6-fpm.service - The PHP 5.6 FastCGI Process Manager
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/php5.6-fpm.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Mon 2022-10-24 20:21:22 IST; 14min ago
       Docs: man:php-fpm5.6(8)
   Main PID: 94753 (php-fpm5.6)
     Status: "Processes active: 0, idle: 2, Requests: 0, slow: 0, Traffic: 0req/sec"
      Tasks: 3 (limit: 1131)
     Memory: 28.2M
     CGroup: /system.slice/php5.6-fpm.service
             ├─94753 php-fpm: master process (/etc/php/5.6/fpm/php-fpm.conf)
             ├─94764 php-fpm: pool www
             └─94765 php-fpm: pool www

Oct 24 20:21:22 devanswers systemd[1]: php5.6-fpm.service: Succeeded.
Oct 24 20:21:22 devanswers systemd[1]: Stopped The PHP 5.6 FastCGI Process Manager.
Oct 24 20:21:22 devanswers systemd[1]: Starting The PHP 5.6 FastCGI Process Manager...
Oct 24 20:21:22 devanswers systemd[1]: Started The PHP 5.6 FastCGI Process Manager.

Now repeat the commands for the next PHP version, in this example, PHP 7.4.

sudo systemctl start php7.4-fpm

Once started, check the status:

sudo systemctl status php7.4-fpm

Output:

 php7.4-fpm.service - The PHP 7.4 FastCGI Process Manager
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/php7.4-fpm.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Mon 2022-10-24 20:29:01 IST; 10min ago
       Docs: man:php-fpm7.4(8)
   Main PID: 94753 (php-fpm7.4)
     Status: "Processes active: 0, idle: 2, Requests: 0, slow: 0, Traffic: 0req/sec"
      Tasks: 3 (limit: 1131)
     Memory: 28.2M
     CGroup: /system.slice/php7.4-fpm.service
             ├─94753 php-fpm: master process (/etc/php/7.4/fpm/php-fpm.conf)
             ├─94764 php-fpm: pool www
             └─94765 php-fpm: pool www

Oct 24 20:29:48 devanswers systemd[1]: php7.4-fpm.service: Succeeded.
Oct 24 20:29:48 devanswers systemd[1]: Stopped The PHP 7.4 FastCGI Process Manager.
Oct 24 20:29:48 devanswers systemd[1]: Starting The PHP 7.4 FastCGI Process Manager...
Oct 24 20:29:48 devanswers systemd[1]: Started The PHP 7.4 FastCGI Process Manager.

4. Configure Apache

We need to add some Apache modules using a2enmod.

  • actions – used for executing CGI scripts based on media type or request method.
  • fcgid – a high performance alternative to mod_cgi that starts a sufficient number of instances of the CGI program to handle concurrent requests.
  • alias – provides for the mapping of different parts of the host filesystem in the document tree, and for URL redirection.
  • proxy_fcgi – allows Apache to forward requests to PHP-FPM.
sudo a2enmod actions fcgid alias proxy_fcgi

Restart Apache.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

You can now use either Virtual Hosts or .htaccess to instruct Apache which version of PHP to use.

5. Virtual Hosts Method

Open your Apache .conf file and add the <FilesMatch> directive to your Virtual Host.

To view your Virtual Hosts, run:

sudo ls -la /etc/apache2/sites-available/

If you are running multiple domains on your Apache server, you should see multiple .conf files here. If not, you may only have 000-default.conf. In that case, you can edit this file:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

Within the <VirtualHost *:80> container (or <VirtualHost *:433> if you are running SSL), add a FilesMatch directive to instruct the virtual host to run a specific version of PHP.

PHP 5.6 Example

/etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf
<VirtualHost *:80>
    <FilesMatch \.php> # Apache 2.4.10+ can proxy to unix socket 
        SetHandler "proxy:unix:/var/run/php/php5.6-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost/" 
    </FilesMatch> 
</VirtualHost> 

Save and exit (press CTRL + X, press Y and then press ENTER)

Make sure to restart Apache after making changes to the Virtual Hosts.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

PHP 7.4 Example

/etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf
<VirtualHost *:80>
    <FilesMatch \.php> # Apache 2.4.10+ can proxy to unix socket 
        SetHandler "proxy:unix:/var/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost/" 
    </FilesMatch> 
</VirtualHost>

Save and exit (press CTRL + X, press Y and then press ENTER)

Make sure to restart Apache after making changes to the Virtual Hosts.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

6. htaccess Method

Instead of the virtual hosts method, you can add the <FilesMatch> directive to your .htaccess file. Before you do, make sure that AllowOverride is enabled, otherwise Apache will ignore .htaccess.

Open the Apache config file.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Scroll down the the following section and make sure that  AllowOverride  is set to All.

/etc/apache2/apache2.conf
<Directory /var/www/>
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted
</Directory>

Save and exit (press CTRL + X, press Y and then press ENTER)

Restart Apache.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Now you can add the  <FilesMatch> directive to your .htaccess file.

PHP 5.6 Example

.htaccess
<FilesMatch \.php> 
    # Apache 2.4.10+ can proxy to unix socket 
    SetHandler "proxy:unix:/var/run/php/php5.6-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost/" 
</FilesMatch>

PHP 7.4 Example

.htaccess
<FilesMatch \.php> 
    # Apache 2.4.10+ can proxy to unix socket 
    SetHandler "proxy:unix:/var/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost/" 
</FilesMatch>

7. Test PHP

To see which version of PHP Apache is serving, create a new file called info.php in your web document root.

In this example, we will create a new file in /var/www/html/, though this should be in your own virtual host document root.

sudo nano /var/www/html/info.php

Enter the following PHP code.

/var/www/html/info.php
<?php
phpinfo(); 
?>

Save file and exit. (Press CTRL + X, press Y and then press ENTER)

We can now load this file in the browser by going to http://example.com/info.php or http://your_ip/info.php

Below we can see the PHP info page with the PHP version clearly displayed.

PHP 7 info test page on Apache and Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

Don’t forget to delete info.php as it contains information that could be useful to hackers.

sudo rm /var/www/html/info.php

Let me know if this helped. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or 🍊 buy me a smoothie.

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37 replies

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    1. make a file .htaccess in a folder in /var/www/html folder (example 7.4)
      put that .htaccess in folder 7.4
      open .htaccess

      fill this :

      # Apache 2.4.10+ can proxy to unix socket
      SetHandler “proxy:unix:/var/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost/”

      and save.

      ““
      for phpmyadmin
      download manually.
      extract and put in folder 7.4

  1. I had missed a step – instructing PHP which version to use. Since I am running my site with SSL, I edited /etc/apache2/sites-available/mysite.com-le-ssl.conf:


    ServerName mysite.com
    ServerAlias http://www.mysite.com mysite.com
    ServerAdmin dan@mysite.com
    DocumentRoot /var/www/mysite.com/public_html
    # Apache 2.4.10+ can proxy to unix socket
    SetHandler “proxy:unix:/var/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost/”

    But in reality – with or without this edit, phpinfo.php reports the same thing – that the Server API is FPM/FastCGI. I include the first part of the output below – it looks nothing like yours, which doesn’t appear to make reference to php-fpm. Elsewhere, folks are telling me php-fpm is deciding ownership and permissions for uploaded files, not Apache, which would explain why my changes to envvars don’t seem to have any effect. Any ideas about what accounts for the difference, apart from the fact that I am using SSL?

    PHP Version 7.4.20
    System Linux myvps.myprovider.com 5.4.0 #1 SMP Thu Apr 22 16:18:59 MSK 2021 x86_64
    Build Date Jun 4 2021 21:24:55
    Server API FPM/FastCGI
    Virtual Directory Support disabled
    Configuration File (php.ini) Path /etc/php/7.4/fpm
    Loaded Configuration File /etc/php/7.4/fpm/php.ini
    Scan this dir for additional .ini files /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d
    Additional .ini files parsed /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/10-mysqlnd.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/10-opcache.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/10-pdo.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/15-xml.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-calendar.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-ctype.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-dom.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-exif.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-ffi.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-fileinfo.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-ftp.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-gettext.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-iconv.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-json.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-mbstring.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-mysqli.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-pdo_mysql.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-phar.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-posix.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-readline.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-shmop.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-simplexml.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-sockets.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-sysvmsg.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-sysvsem.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-sysvshm.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-tokenizer.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-xmlreader.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-xmlwriter.ini, /etc/php/7.4/fpm/conf.d/20-xsl.ini
    PHP API 20190902
    PHP Extension 20190902
    Zend Extension 320190902
    Zend Extension Build API320190902,NTS
    PHP Extension Build API20190902,NTS

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t have an article for Nginx yet, but steps 1 and 2 are the same, instead you edit your Nginx conf and add/edit fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/phpX.X-fpm.sock changing phpX.X to the version of PHP you want to run for that particular virtual host.

  2. Excellent solution, but I agree with the friends below, steps missing:

    a2enconf php5.6-fpm
    a2enconf php7.2-fpm

    service php7.2-fpm start
    service php5.6-fpm start

    service apache2 reload

  3. Thank you for this tutorial.
    I want to ask how to specify a version of each to install special extension say for eample oci8?

  4. FastCGI or FPM cant implement php_value in .htaccess files, If I follow this tutorial, how can I solve the need to use phpvalue?

  5. I keep getting a ‘503 Service unavailable’ error.
    I followed the instructions here, except for ‘4. Virtual Hosts Method’.
    I even followed the instructions in the comments here on this problem.
    Still I only get ‘503 Service unavailable’.
    Please, anyone, help me…!

  6. If you get “Service unavailable” then you need to start the services:

    sudo service php5.6-fpm start

    sudo service php5.6-fpm start

    best!

  7. Hi,
    I am getting a 503 Error.
    Service Unavailable
    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

    Please help thanks.

  8. There is an error in virtualhost file at following line:
    SetHandler “proxy:unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost/”

    You should remove slash after localhost like below:
    SetHandler “proxy:unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock|fcgi://localhost”

    Otherwise, $_SERVER[‘SCRIPT_FILENAME’] will set with two leading slashes.

  9. Thanks for the tutorial, it was very useful.

    I’m not an expert in this area and my 2 local sites are now running with PHP 7.2 and 5.6 respectively.

    The only thing I had to do was to start these services after installing PHP:

    sudo service php5.6-fpm start
    sudo service php7.2-fpm start

    to have the following files available:
    /var/run/php/php*-fpm.sock

    I don’t know if that was the right thing to do, but after reading here and there, I tried that and it worked.

    I already had php 7.2 running, so I only added php 5.6.

    Another thing I noticed is that in PHP info output, before I had:

    Server API : Apache 2.0 Handler

    and after following this guide, now PHP info shows:

    Server API: FPM/FastCGI

    I’d like to understand a bit more about why I see this change just to understand better if you have the time.

    I’m running Apache on Ubuntu 18.04.

    Anyways thanks again for the guide.