Running Apache2 With PHP5 And PHP4 At The Same Time

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
Last edited: 02/07/2006

This tutorial shows how to install and configure Apache2 with PHP5 and PHP4 enabled at the same time. Because it is not possible to run both PHP5 and PHP4 as Apache modules, we must run one of them as CGI, the other one as Apache module. In this document I will use PHP5 as Apache module and PHP4 as CGI, and I will describe the setup for the Linux distributions Debian Sarge (3.1) and Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger).

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

1 Setup For Debian Sarge (3.1)

First, you must at least have a working basic Debian installation, as described on the first two pages of the "Perfect Setup" tutorial for Debian Sarge here on HowtoForge: and

Because PHP5 is not available in the official Debian Sarge repositories, we have to add another repository ( to /etc/apt/sources.list. Add these two lines:

deb stable all
deb-src stable all

to /etc/apt/sources.list (mine looks like this then:

deb stable main
deb-src stable main

deb stable all
deb-src stable all

deb stable/updates main

) and run

apt-get update


Now we can install Apache2 as well as the Apache2-PHP5 module and the PHP4-CGI:

apt-get install apache2 apache2-doc
apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5 php4-cgi

Next, we can install all the PHP5 and PHP4 modules we need on our server, like this:

apt-get install php5-curl php5-dev php5-gd php5-gmp php5-imap php5-ldap php5-mcrypt php5-mhash php5-ming php5-mysql php5-mysqli php5-odbc php5-pdo-mysql php5-pdo-sqlite php5-pear php5-pspell php5-snmp php5-sybase php5-tidy php4-curl php4-domxml php4-gd php4-gmp php4-imap php4-ldap php4-mcal php4-mcrypt php4-mhash php4-ming php4-mysql php4-odbc php4-pspell php4-recode php4-snmp php4-xslt php4-xdebug curl libwww-perl imagemagick (1 line!)

Edit /etc/apache2/apache2.conf. Change

DirectoryIndex index.html index.cgi index.php index.xhtml


DirectoryIndex index.html index.htm index.shtml index.cgi index.php index.php4 index.xhtml

and add these two lines as well (in the section where you can find AddType and AddHandler directives):

AddHandler php-script .php4
Action php-script /cgi-bin/php4

This will make sure that PHP files with the extension .php4 are executed as CGI. PHP files with the extension .php will be run by the Apache2-PHP5 module.

Next, we have to enable a few Apache modules, like for example the actions module (otherwise we cannot run PHP4 as CGI):

a2enmod actions
a2enmod ssl
a2enmod rewrite
a2enmod suexec
a2enmod include

Restart Apache, and you're done!

/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Now we can test our installation: Put two files, info.php and info.php4, with the same content:


into /var/www (this is the default document root of Debian's Apache2) and try to access them in a browser (if the server's IP address is, for example, you would type and You should see two different PHP versions, one run as Apache module (PHP5), the other one (PHP4) called as CGI:



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4 Comment(s)

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By: Anonymous

I have installed Debian Sarge 3.1 according your "perfect setup" including ISPConfig. If i like to extend this "perfect setup" with your how to "Running Apache2 With PHP5 And PHP4 At The Same Time" everything will work or not?

By: Anonymous

Check this out ->

By: Anonymous

My recomendation would be better to use fastcgi feature of PHP as it would greatly reduce system overhead of loading and running instance of php executable for every request,
and it would reduce overhead of database connection too with this setup off course.

Only what should be known is "Basic" authentication is problematic but that can be overcomed too.

boris [d0t] manojlovic [@t] gmail [d0t] com


The concept is simple. You can run identical software on a computer as long as their name/IDs are unique. In the case of IP products (web servers, etc.) the additional burden is to have a unique IP/Port combination. To run PHP4 and PHP5 on the same computer just compile Apache with the prefix (e.g. --prefix=/usr/local/apache4) and the PHP5 as /usr/local/apache5) (feel free to use your own folder names). Thereafter when compiling PHP do the same. You can manually copy the PHP4 and PHP5 files to the respective modules folder. Rename each PHP CLI to php4 and php5 and copy the php4 or php5 cli to just php for programs that need a default php. You decided which is gonna be your default php. I use php4 myscript.php when I want the php4 cli. Change the listen ports to 80 and 81 (for example), respectively, if you have only one IP. If you have more than one (IP) change the Listen to each respective IPs port e.g. Listen Works for me in CentOS (over a year). No guarantees. I have been developing software since 1980 :)