macOS 12.0 Monterey Apache Setup: Multiple PHP Versions

First part in a multi-part blog series for Mac developers

17 mins

IMPORTANT: It's critical to select the correct type of processor your mac is using so the instructions below will be accurate. This is because Homebrew uses different paths for Apple Silicon and Intel based hardware.

My mac is using an processor.

Part 1: macOS 11.0 Big Sur Web Development Environment

Developing web applications on macOS is a real joy. There are plenty of options for setting up your development environments, including the ever-popular MAMP Pro that provides a nice UI on top of Apache, PHP and MySQL. However, there are times when MAMP Pro has slow downs, or out of date versions, or is simply behaving badly due to its restrictive system of configuration templates and non-standard builds.

It is times like these that people often look for an alternative approach, and luckily there is one, and it is relatively straight-forward to setup.

In this blog post, we will walk you through setting up and configuring Apache 2.4 and multiple PHP versions. In the second blog post in this two-post series, we will cover MySQL, Apache virtual hosts, APC caching, and Xdebug installation.

10/31/2021 Added dynamic support for Apple Silicon and Intel homebrew paths
10/29/2021 Updated to reflect macOS 12.0 Monterey and removed PHP 5.6
11/27/2020 Updated to add some information on PHP 8.0
11/13/2020 Updated to reflect the release of macOS 11.0 Big Sur
12/02/2019 Updated to reflect the latest release of PHP 7.4 and the removal of PHP 7.1 from Official tap
12/02/2019 Updated to reflect the latest release of PHP 7.4 and the removal of PHP 7.1 from Official tap
10/08/2019 Updated to reflect the release of macOS 10.5 Catalina
01/10/2019 Updated to add back PHP 5.6 and PHP 7.0 from and external deprecated keg
12/12/2018 Updated to reflect the latest release of PHP 7.3 and the removal of PHP 7.0 from Brew.

If you have followed this guide in the past with the Homebrew/php tap, and are looking to upgrade to the new Homebrew/core approach, then you should first clean-up your current installation by following our new Upgrading Homebrew.

This guide is intended for experienced web developers. If you are a beginner developer, you will be better served using MAMP or MAMP Pro.

XCode Command Line Tools

If you don't already have XCode installed, it's best to first install the command line tools as these will be used by homebrew:

xcode-select --install

Homebrew Installation

This process relies heavily on the macOS package manager called Homebrew. Using the brew command you can easily add powerful functionality to your mac, but first we have to install it. This is a simple process, but you need to launch your Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal) application and then enter:

/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install.sh)"

Just follow the terminal prompts and enter your password where required. This may take a few minutes.

If this is a fresh install and you don't have your path setup properly, you can follow the installation "next steps" which are already customized for you, or you can manually add the following paths to your .bashrc or .zshrc:

eval "$(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)"

Now you can test your installation to ensure you have installed brew correctly, simply type:

brew --version
Homebrew 3.3.1 
Homebrew/homebrew-core (git revision 1362c572e16; last commit 2021-10-29)

You should probably also run the following command to ensure everything is configured correctly:

brew doctor

It will instruct you if you need to correct anything.

Monterey Required Libraries

When installing fresh on Monterey, I ran into a few libraries that were missing when completing all the steps below. To make things easier, please simply run this now:

brew install openssl

Apache Installation

The latest macOS 12.0 Monterey comes with Apache 2.4 pre-installed, however, it is no longer a simple task to use this version with Homebrew because Apple has removed some required scripts in this release. However, the solution is to install Apache 2.4 via Homebrew and then configure it to run on the standard ports (80/443).

If you already have the built-in Apache running, it will need to be shutdown first, and any auto-loading scripts removed. It really doesn't hurt to just run all these commands in order - even if it's a fresh installation:

sudo apachectl stop
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist 2>/dev/null

Now we need to install the new version provided by Brew:

brew install httpd

Without options, httpd won't need to be built from source, so it installs pretty quickly. Upon completion you should see a message like:

🍺  /opt/homebrew/Cellar/httpd/2.4.51: 1,660 files, 32.0MB

Now we just need to configure things so that our new Apache server is auto-started

brew services start httpd

You now have installed Homebrew's Apache, and configured it to auto-start with a privileged account. It should already be running, so you can try to reach your server in a browser by pointing it at http://localhost:8080, you should see a simple header that says "It works!".

Troubleshooting Tips

If you get a message that the browser can't connect to the server, first check to ensure the server is up.

ps -aef | grep httpd

You should see a few httpd processes if Apache is up and running.

Try to restart Apache with:

brew services restart httpd

You can watch the Apache error log in a new Terminal tab/window during a restart to see if anything is invalid or causing a problem:

tail -f /opt/homebrew/var/log/httpd/error_log

Apache is controlled via the brew services command so some useful commands to use are:

brew services stop httpd
brew services start httpd
brew services restart httpd

Visual Studio Code

In past guides, I've always provided instructions to edit files using the default TextEdit application that comes pre-installed. However, this is not what I use myself as it's a terrible editor and when testing my guide for Big Sur, I kept running into problems with encoding, finding line numbers etc. The better solution is to simply install a better editor. So please install the amazingly versatile yet, 100% free, Visual Studio Code. It's available on Mac, Windows, and Linux, but right now we only care about the mac version.

We can make use of the HomeBrew and install VSCode and the accompanying code CLI command in one shot with:

brew install --cask visual-studio-code

If you already have Visual Studio Code installed, you can easily create a code symlink with:

ln -s /Applications/Visual\ Studio\ Code.app/Contents/Resources/app/bin/code /opt/homebrew/bin/code

Apache Configuration

Now that we have a working web server, we will want to do is make some configuration changes so it works better as a local development server.

In the latest version of Brew, you have to manually set the listen port from the default of 8080 to 80, so we will need to edit Apache's configuration file /opt/homebrew/etc/httpd/httpd.conf.

If you followed the instructions above you should be able to use Visual Studio Code to edit your files using the code Terminal command. However, if you want to use the default TextEditor application to perform edits, you can use the open -e command followed by the path to the file.

code /opt/homebrew/etc/httpd/httpd.conf

VSC

Find the line that says

Listen 8080

and change it to 80:

Listen 80

Next we'll configure it to use the to change the document root for Apache. This is the folder where Apache looks to serve file from. By default, the document root is configured as /opt/homebrew/var/www. As this is a development machine, let's assume we want to change the document root to point to a folder in our own home directory.

Search for the term DocumentRoot, and you should see the following line:

DocumentRoot "/opt/homebrew/var/www"

Change this to point to your user directory where your_user is the name of your user account:

DocumentRoot "/Users/your_user/Sites"

You also need to change the <Directory> tag reference right below the DocumentRoot line. This should also be changed to point to your new document root also:

<Directory "/Users/your_user/Sites">

In that same <Directory> block you will find an AllowOverride setting, this should be changed as follows:

#
# AllowOverride controls what directives may be placed in .htaccess files.
# It can be "All", "None", or any combination of the keywords:
#   AllowOverride FileInfo AuthConfig Limit
#
AllowOverride All

Also we should now enable mod_rewrite which is commented out by default. Search for mod_rewrite.so and uncomment the line by removing the leading # by pushing + / on the line (this is a quick way to uncomment and comment a single or multiple lines:

LoadModule rewrite_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_rewrite.so

User & Group

Now we have the Apache configuration pointing to a Sites folder in our home directory. One problem still exists, however. By default, apache runs as the user daemon and group daemon. This will cause permission problems when trying to access files in our home directory. About a third of the way down the httpd.conf file there are two settings to set the User and Group Apache will run under. Change these to match your user account (replace your_user with your real username), with a group of staff:

User your_user
Group staff

Servername

Apache likes to have a server name in the configuration, but this is disabled by default, so search for:

#ServerName www.example.com:8080

and replace it with:

ServerName localhost

Sites Folder

Now, you need to create a Sites folder in the root of your home directory. You can do this in your terminal, or in Finder. In this new Sites folder create a simple index.html and put some dummy content in it like: <h1>My User Web Root</h1>.

mkdir ~/Sites
echo "<h1>My User Web Root</h1>" > ~/Sites/index.html

Restart apache to ensure your configuration changes have taken effect:

brew services stop httpd
brew services start httpd

If you receive an error upon restarting Apache, try removing the quotes around the DocumentRoot and Directory designations we set up earlier.

Pointing your browser to http://localhost should display your new message. If you have that working, we can move on!

Makes sure you remove the :8080 port we used earlier. Also, you might need to Shift + Reload to clear the browser cache and pick up the new file.

Troubleshooting Non-Sudo httpd Services Start

I will be updating this section with more tips and things to try as I find solutions to common problems. Please hop on our #macos Discord Chat to get some "live" help.

This year, with macOS Big Sur, I've switched from using sudo to launch httpd with root (even though it ran as the user/group defined in httpd.conf), and for people who have upgraded from that version to this, there have been problems.

I ran into some problems myself but was able to get it working pretty easily, but others have reported more wide-spread problems. Please try these steps if your Apache is not starting when you use brew services start httpd.

First, try to start apache directly with:

/opt/homebrew/bin/httpd -k start

This bypasses the brew services command and often prints out specific issues. If you have issues reported about not being able to write to log files, try removing all the current log httpd log files:

rm -Rf /opt/homebrew/var/log/httpd/*

Then try starting again.

If you have see a message saying something like Address already in use: AH00072: make_sock: could not bind to address, try changing the Listen config in httpd.conf to:

Listen 0.0.0.0:80

PHP Installation

If you have existing PHP installations via Brew, you need to first cleanup your setup with our Upgrading Homebrew guide before continuing with this section.

Up until the end of March 2018, all PHP related brews were handled by Homebrew/php tab, but that has been deprecated, so now we use what's available in the Homebrew/core package. This should be a better maintained, but is a much less complete, set of packages.

PHP 7.0, and PHP 7.1 have been deprecated and removed from Brew because they are out of support, and while it's not recommended for production, there are legitimate reasons to test these unsupported versions in a development environment. These versions also need to "built from source" in order to use the latest versions of icu4c and openssl.

Remember only PHP 7.2 through 8.0 are officially supported by Brew, but these also have to be built which is pretty slow. For the latest version of our guide we will use the new tap from @shivammahtur as there are many versions (including PHP 8.1 builds) pre-built.

brew tap shivammathur/php

We will proceed by installing various versions of PHP and using a simple script to switch between them as we need. Feel free to exclude any versions you don't want to install.

brew install shivammathur/php/[email protected]
brew install shivammathur/php/[email protected]
brew install shivammathur/php/[email protected]
brew install shivammathur/php/[email protected]
brew install shivammathur/php/[email protected]
brew install shivammathur/php/[email protected]

Also, you may have the need to tweak configuration settings of PHP to your needs. A common thing to change is the memory settings or the date.timezone configuration. The php.ini files for each version of PHP are located in the following directories:

/opt/homebrew/etc/php/7.0/php.ini
/opt/homebrew/etc/php/7.1/php.ini
/opt/homebrew/etc/php/7.2/php.ini
/opt/homebrew/etc/php/7.3/php.ini
/opt/homebrew/etc/php/7.4/php.ini
/opt/homebrew/etc/php/8.0/php.ini

At this point, I strongly recommend closing ALL your terminal tabs and windows. This will mean opening a new terminal to continue with the next step. This is strongly recommended because some really strange path issues can arise with existing terminals (trust me, I have seen it!).

We have installed but not linked these PHP versions. To switch to PHP 7.3 for example we can type:

brew unlink php && brew link --overwrite --force [email protected]

Quick test that we're in the correct version:

php -v
PHP 7.3.32 (cli) (built: Oct 29 2021 00:43:12) ( NTS )
Copyright (c) 1997-2018 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v3.3.32, Copyright (c) 1998-2018 Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v7.3.32, Copyright (c) 1999-2018, by Zend Technologies

and to switch to to 7.4:

brew unlink php && brew link --overwrite --force [email protected]

And check that it's changed correctly:

php -v
PHP 7.4.25 (cli) (built: Oct 21 2021 00:29:22) ( NTS )
Copyright (c) The PHP Group
Zend Engine v3.4.0, Copyright (c) Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v7.4.25, Copyright (c), by Zend Technologies

Apache PHP Setup - Part 1

You have successfully installed your PHP versions, but we need to tell Apache to use them. You will again need to edit the /opt/homebrew/etc/httpd/httpd.conf file scroll to the bottom of the LoadModule entries.

If you have been following this guide correctly, the last entry should be your mod_rewrite module:

LoadModule rewrite_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_rewrite.so

Below this add the following libphp modules:

#LoadModule php7_module /opt/homebrew/opt/[email protected]/lib/httpd/modules/libphp7.so
#LoadModule php7_module /opt/homebrew/opt/[email protected]/lib/httpd/modules/libphp7.so
#LoadModule php7_module /opt/homebrew/opt/[email protected]/lib/httpd/modules/libphp7.so
#LoadModule php7_module /opt/homebrew/opt/[email protected]/lib/httpd/modules/libphp7.so
LoadModule php7_module /opt/homebrew/opt/[email protected]/lib/httpd/modules/libphp7.so
#LoadModule php_module /opt/homebrew/opt/[email protected]/lib/httpd/modules/libphp.so

We can only have one module processing PHP at a time, so for now, so we have left our [email protected] entry uncommented while all the others are commented out. This will tell Apache to use PHP 7.4 to handle PHP requests. (We will add the ability to switch PHP versions later).

Also you must set the Directory Indexes for PHP explicitly, so search for this block:

<IfModule dir_module>
    DirectoryIndex index.html
</IfModule>

and replace it with this:

<IfModule dir_module>
    DirectoryIndex index.php index.html
</IfModule>

<FilesMatch \.php$>
    SetHandler application/x-httpd-php
</FilesMatch>

Save the file and stop Apache then start again, now that we have installed PHP:

brew services stop httpd
brew services start httpd

Validating PHP Installation

The best way to test if PHP is installed and running as expected is to make use of phpinfo(). This is not something you want to leave on a production machine, but it's invaluable in a development environment.

Simply create a file called info.php in your Sites/ folder you created earlier with this one-liner.

echo "<?php phpinfo();" > ~/Sites/info.php

Point your browser to http://localhost/info.php and you should see a shiny PHP information page:

If you see a similar phpinfo result, congratulations! You now have Apache and PHP running successfully. You can test the other PHP versions by commenting the LoadModule ... [email protected] ... entry and uncommenting one of the other ones. Then simply restart apache and reload the same page.

PHP Switcher Script

We hard-coded Apache to use PHP 7.4, but we really want to be able to switch between versions. Luckily, some industrious individuals have already done the hard work for us and written a very handy little PHP switcher script.

This sphp script has been updated to support PHP 8.0. If you want to use that version, please repeat the process below to get the latest version.

We will install the sphp script into brew's standard /opt/homebrew/bin:

curl -L https://gist.githubusercontent.com/rhukster/f4c04f1bf59e0b74e335ee5d186a98e2/raw/791fda77946ab2dbd053d7f27e9237aaf7392c4b/sphp.sh > /opt/homebrew/bin/sphp
chmod +x /opt/homebrew/bin/sphp

Testing the PHP Switching

After you have completed these steps, you should be able to switch your PHP version by using the command sphp followed by a two digit value for the PHP version:

sphp 8.0

You will probably have to enter your administrator password, and it should give you some feedback:

Switching to [email protected]
Switching your shell
Unlinking /opt/homebrew/Cellar/[email protected]/7.3.32... 25 symlinks removed.
Unlinking /opt/homebrew/Cellar/[email protected]/7.4.25... 0 symlinks removed.
Unlinking /opt/homebrew/Cellar/php/8.0.12... 0 symlinks removed.
Linking /opt/homebrew/Cellar/php/8.0.12... 24 symlinks created.
Switching your apache conf
Restarting apache
Stopping `httpd`... (might take a while)
==> Successfully stopped `httpd` (label: homebrew.mxcl.httpd)
==> Successfully started `httpd` (label: homebrew.mxcl.httpd)

PHP 8.0.12 (cli) (built: Oct 21 2021 00:21:19) ( NTS )
Copyright (c) The PHP Group
Zend Engine v4.0.12, Copyright (c) Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v8.0.12, Copyright (c), by Zend Technologies

All done!

Test to see if your Apache is now running PHP 7.4 by again pointing your browser to http://localhost/info.php. With a little luck, you should see something like this:

Troubleshooting PHP Switching

If you have upgraded from a previous version of this guide and have installed PHP8, you may see message like: Unknown version of PHP. PHP Switcher can only handle arguments of: 7.0,7.1,7.2,7.3,7.4,8.0,8.1, then you need to reinstall the sphp script which has been updated.

If you get a message about conflicting PHP versions, then you probably have a conflict of taps. You will need to uninstall your previous PHP versions, then remove the old tap, then add the new tap, and then reinstall PHP versions using the syntax above. For example:

brew untap exolnet/deprecated
brew tap shivammathur/php
brew install shivammathur/php/[email protected]

Test Your Setup with Grav CMS!

What better way to test your new powerful setup than to quickly install and test Grav. The best flat-file CMS in the world 😆! We can do this with just a couple of quick terminal commands:

cd ~/Sites
curl -OJL https://getgrav.org/download/core/grav-admin/latest
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
  0     0    0     0    0     0      0      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--     0
100   628  100   628    0     0   1008      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--  2803
100 17.6M  100 17.6M    0     0  12.3M      0  0:00:01  0:00:01 --:--:-- 77.3M

Then just extract the zip file:

unzip grav-admin-v1.7.24.zip

This will extract the zip into a ~/Sites/grav-admin folder. Then simply point your browser at this directory http://localhost/grav-admin:

Fill in the relevant information to create a new administator user, and simply click Create User to get into the admin. No other steps needed.

All done!!!!

Updating PHP and other Brew Packages

Brew makes it super easy to update PHP and the other packages you install. The first step is to update Brew so that it gets a list of available updates:

brew update

This will spit out a list of available updates, and any deleted formulas. To upgrade the packages simply type:

brew upgrade

You will need to switch to each of your installed PHP versions and run update again to get updates for each PHP version and ensure you are running the version of PHP you intend.

Activating Specific/Latest PHP Versions

Due to the way our PHP linking is set up, only one version of PHP is linked at a time, only the current active version of PHP will be updated to the latest version. You can see the current active version by typing:

php -v

And you can see the specific versions of a PHP package by typing:

brew info [email protected]
[email protected]: stable 7.4.25 (bottled) [keg-only]
General-purpose scripting language
https://www.php.net/
/opt/homebrew/Cellar/[email protected]/7.4.25 (498 files, 73MB)
  Poured from bottle on 2021-10-29 at 17:13:47
From: https://github.com/Homebrew/homebrew-core/blob/HEAD/Formula/[email protected]
License: PHP-3.01
==> Dependencies
...

OK, that wraps up Part 1 of this 3 part series You now have a fully functional Apache 2.4 installation with a quick-and-easy way to toggle between PHP 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, and 8.0. Check out Part 2 to find out how to setup your environment with MySQL, Virtual Hosts, APC caching, YAML, and Xdebug. Also take a gander at Part 3 to find out how to setup SSL for your Apache Virtual Hosts.

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