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Installing PHP and the Oracle Instant Client for Linux and Windows

The easiest way to configure PHP to access a remote Oracle Database is to use Oracle Instant Client libraries. This note describes how to install PHP with the OCI8 Extension and Oracle Instant Client on Windows and Linux. The free The Underground PHP and Oracle Manual explains other installation options and contains more detail.

OCI8 is the PHP extension for connecting to Oracle Database. OCI8 is open source and included with PHP. The name is derived from Oracle's C "call interface" API first introduced in version 8 of Oracle Database. OCI8 links with Oracle client libraries, such as Oracle Instant Client.

Oracle Instant Client is a free set of easily installed libraries that allow programs to connect to local or remote Oracle Database instances. To use Instant Client an existing database is needed - Instant Client does not include one. Typically the database will be on another machine. If the database is local then Instant Client, although convenient and still usable, is generally not needed because OCI8 can directly use the database libraries.

When using Instant Client 11g, PHP OCI8 connects to all editions of Oracle 9.2, 10.x, and 11.x databases.

Software Requirements

Software Notes
Oracle Instant Client Download the "Basic" package. On Linux, also download the "SDK" or "devel" package. If space is at a premium, the Basic Lite package can be used instead of Basic.
Apache HTTP Server Version 2.2
PHP Version 5.4

Enabling the PHP OCI8 Extension on Windows

The Instant Client binaries complement PHP's pre-built binaries for Windows.

  • Install Apache by downloading httpd-2.2.22-win32-x86-no_ssl.msi from
  • Double click the MSI file to start the installation wizard.

    Install "for All Users, on Port 80". Do a typical install into the default destination folder: C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2.

  • Download the FastCGI component from
  • Unzip it to the installed Apache 2.2 directory. The C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\modules directory should now have and mod_fcgid.pdb files.
  • Edit C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\conf\httpd.conf and add the line:
    LoadModule fcgid_module modules/
  • In httpd.conf, locate the section for htdocs and add ExecCGI to the Options:
    <Directory "C:/Program Files/Apache Software Foundation/Apache2.2/htdocs">
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks ExecCGI
  • Install PHP by downloading the PHP 5.4.0 "VC9 x86 Non Thread Safe" ZIP package from
  • In Windows Explorer unzip the PHP package to a directory called C:\php-5.4.0
  • In C:\php-5.4.0 copy php.ini-development to php.ini
  • Edit php.ini to make the following changes:
    • Add a timezone line like: date.timezone = America/Los_Angeles Use your local timezone name.
    • Add the line: extension_dir = C:\php-5.4.0\ext

      This is the directory containing the PHP extensions.

    • Remove the semicolon from the beginning of the line: extension=php_oci8_11g.dll
  • Edit C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\conf\httpd.conf and add the following lines. Make sure you use forward slashes '/' and not back slashes '\':
    FcgidInitialEnv PHPRC "c:/php-5.4.0"
    AddHandler fcgid-script .php
    FcgidWrapper "c:/php-5.4.0/php-cgi.exe" .php
  • Download the "Instant Client Package - Basic" for Windows from the OTN Instant Client page. Because PHP is 32 bit, use the 32 bit version of Instant Client.

    Unzip the Instant Client files to C:\instantclient_11_2

  • Edit the Windows PATH environment setting and add C:\instantclient_11_2. For example, on Windows XP, follow Start -> Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Environment Variables and edit PATH in the System variables list.

    Commonly you need to reboot Windows so the new environment is correctly set.

    Set desired Oracle globalization language environment variables such as NLS_LANG. If nothing is set, a default local environment will be assumed. See the Globalization chapter in The Underground PHP and Oracle Manual for more details.

    Unset Oracle variables such as ORACLE_HOME and ORACLE_SID, which are unnecessary with Instant Client.

    If you have other Oracle software on the computer then instead of modifying the Windows environment, write a script that sets these values and starts Apache. Otherwise library symbol clashes are likely because of version differences.

  • Restart Apache using the system tray Apache Monitor or the Start menu option.
  • Enabling the PHP OCI8 Extension on Linux

    On Linux, PHP is generally manually compiled because the bundled version nevers seems to be up to date. However, if you don't wish to recompile PHP, more recent, unsupported RPM packages for Oracle Linux are available from, or via Unbreakable Linux Network updates. If a supported PHP environment is desired use Zend Server. These all have the OCI8 extension pre-built.

    To build PHP and OCI8 from source code:

  • Install the Apache HTTP Server and development packages e.g. with yum install httpd httpd-devel.
  • Download the PHP 5.4 source code and install PHP following Installation on Unix systems in the PHP manual.

    At this stage, don't configure the OCI8 extension.

  • Download the Basic and the SDK Instant Client packages from the OTN Instant Client page. Either the zip file or RPMs can be used.

    Install the RPMs as the root user, for example:

      rpm -Uvh oracle-instantclient11.2-basic- 
    rpm -Uvh oracle-instantclient11.2-devel- 

    The first RPM puts Oracle libraries in /usr/lib/oracle/11.2/client64/lib and the second creates headers in /usr/include/oracle/11.2/client64.

    If you are using the ZIP files, the SDK should unzipped to the same directory as the basic package, and a symbolic link manually created:

    ln -s
  • The latest OCI8 extension from PECL is always the current version. Although it is generally in sync with the latest PHP 5.4 source code, it can sometimes be more recent. The latest production extension can be automatically downloaded and added to PHP using: pecl install oci8

    This gives:

    downloading oci8-1.4.7.tgz ...
    Starting to download oci8-1.4.7.tgz (Unknown size)
    .....done: 168,584 bytes
    10 source files, building
    running: phpize
    Configuring for:
    PHP Api Version:         20100412
    Zend Module Api No:      20100525
    Zend Extension Api No:   220100525
    Please provide the path to the ORACLE_HOME directory.
    Use 'instantclient,/path/to/instant/client/lib' if you're compiling
    with Oracle Instant Client [autodetect] : 

    If you have the Instant Client RPMs, hit Enter and PECL will automatically build and install an shared library. If you have the Instant Client zip files, or want a specific version of Instant Client used, then explicitly give the appropriate path after "instantclient,":


    Use an explicit, absolute path since PECL does not expand environment variables.

    If you don't have the pecl program, you can alternatively download the OCI8 package in a browser and then install it with:

      tar -xzf oci8-1.4.7.tgz
    cd oci8-1.4.7
    ./configure --with-oci8=instantclient,/usr/lib/oracle/11.2/client64/lib
    make install
  • Edit php.ini and enable the OCI8 extension with:

    Also confirm extension_dir points to the directory the file was installed into.

  • Add the Instant Client directory to /etc/, or manually set LD_LIBRARY_PATH to /usr/lib/oracle/11.2/client64/lib. You might also want to set Oracle globalization language environment variables such as TNS_ADMIN and NLS_LANG. If NLS_LANG is not set, a default local environment will be assumed. See the Globalization chapter in The Underground PHP and Oracle Manual for more details.

    It is important to set all Oracle environment variables before starting Apache so that the OCI8 process environment is correctly initialized. Setting environment variables in PHP scripts can lead to obvious or non-obvious problems. On Oracle Linux, export environment variables in /etc/sysconfig/httpd. On Debian-based machines set them in /etc/apache2/envvars.

    Restart Apache, for example:

    service httpd restart

    Verifying the PHP OCI8 Extension is Installed

    To check OCI8 configuration, create a simple PHP script phpinfo.php in the Apache document root:

    <?php phpinfo(); ?>

    Load the script into a browser using the appropriate URL, e.g. http://localhost/phpinfo.php. The browser page will contain an "oci8" section saying "OCI8 Support enabled" and listing the OCI8 options that can be configured.

    Connecting to an Oracle Database

    To create a connection, Oracle username and password credentials are passed as two parameters of oci_connect(). An Oracle Database name connection identifier must be used for the third parameter because programs linked with Instant Client are always considered "remote" from any database server and need to be told which database instance to connect to. The connection string is likely to be well known for established Oracle databases. With new systems the information is given by the Oracle installation program when the database is set up. The installer should have configured Oracle Network and created a service name such as orcl for you.

    There are several ways to pass the connection information to PHP. This example uses Oracle's Easy Connect syntax to connect to the HR schema in the orcl database service running on mymachine. No tnsnames.ora or other Oracle Network file is needed:

    $conn = oci_connect('hr', 'hr_password', 'mymachine.mydomain/orcl');

    See Oracle's Using the Easy Connect Naming Method documentation for the Easy Connect syntax.

    In new databases the demonstration schemas such as the HR user will need to be unlocked and given a password. This may be done in SQL*Plus by connecting as the SYSTEM user and executing the statement:


    Using PHP OCI8 and Oracle

    Try out a simple script, testoci.php Modify the connection credentials to suit your database and load it in a browser. This example lists all tables owned by the user HR:

    $conn = oci_connect('hr', 'hr_password', 'mymachine.mydomain/orcl');
    $stid = oci_parse($conn, 'select table_name from user_tables');
    echo "<table>\n";
    while (($row = oci_fetch_array($stid, OCI_ASSOC+OCI_RETURN_NULLS)) != false) {
        echo "<tr>\n";
        foreach ($row as $item) {
            echo "  <td>".($item !== null ? htmlentities($item, ENT_QUOTES) : "&nbsp;")."</td>\n";
        echo "</tr>\n";
    echo "</table>\n";


    Check the Apache error log file for startup errors.

    Temporarily set display_error=On in php.ini so script errors are displayed. Switch it back off when finished for security reasons.

    Chapter 9 of The Underground PHP and Oracle Manual contains information about common connection errors and discusses alternative ways to set environment variables.

    Oracle's SQL*Plus command line tool can be downloaded from the Instant Client page to help resolve environment and connection problems. Check SQL*Plus can connect and then ensure the Environment section (not the Apache Environment section) of phpinfo.php shows the equivalent environment settings.

    Windows Specific Help

    If the phpinfo.php script does not produce an "oci8" section saying "OCI8 Support enabled", verify that extension=php_oci8_11g.dll is uncommented in php.ini.

    If php.ini's extension_dir directive does not contain the directory with php_oci8_11g.dll then Apache startup will give an alert: "PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library php_oci8_11g.dll."

    If PATH is set incorrectly or the Oracle libraries cannot be found at all, starting Apache will give an alert: "The dynamic link library OCI.dll could not be found in the specified path". The Environment section of the phpinfo() page will show the values of PATH and the Oracle variables actually being used by PHP.

    If there are multiple versions of Oracle libraries on the machine then version clashes are likely. For some discussion on setting variables refer to Using PHP OCI8 with 32-bit PHP on Windows 64-bit.

    Linux Specific Help

    If using Instant Client ZIP files, make sure the two packages are unzipped to the same location. Make sure a symbolic link points to

    Set all required Oracle environment variables in the shell that starts Apache.


    Using Oracle Instant Client and installing PHP OCI8 from PECL provide maximum flexibility, allowing components to be easily installed and upgraded.

    Questions and suggestions can be posted on the OTN PHP

    The PHP Developer Center contains links to useful background material.

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