Enabling Apache’s PHP execution in User Directories on Ubuntu Lucid

Ubuntu Lucid ships with PHP disabled for user directories. That’s a sensible security default, but it won’t allow your developers to get their work done. And if you’re working with Drupal, you’ll need all the steps listed here.

First, you’ll need to install Apache:
sudo apt-get install apache2

Then the compiled PHP binary (or “shared object” in Apache lingo):
sudo apt-get install php5

You may need to do sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart or sudo service apache2 restart to have it pick up the updated configuration file that loads the PHP5 module. Try visiting your own box at “localhost” to see if you get a nice “welcome” page. You can put an “info.php” file in /var/www to test if PHP is working (the contents of your info.php file are simply <?php phpinfo(); ?>), and visit that in your browser.

Once you’ve gotten PHP running under Apache, edit /etc/apache2/mods-available/php5.conf and comment out the lines as instructed:

<IfModule mod_php5.c>
    <FilesMatch "\.ph(p3?|tml)$">
        SetHandler application/x-httpd-php
    </FilesMatch>
    <FilesMatch "\.phps$">
        SetHandler application/x-httpd-php-source
    </FilesMatch>
    # To re-enable php in user directories comment the following lines
    # (from <IfModule ...> to </IfModule>.) Do NOT set it to On as it
    # prevents .htaccess files from disabling it.
#    <IfModule mod_userdir.c>
#        <Directory /home/*/public_html>
#            php_admin_value engine Off
#        </Directory>
#    </IfModule>
</IfModule>

If you’re developing with Drupal, the following step may also be necessary: In /etc/apache2/mods-available/userdir.conf, you should allow Drupal’s local .htaccess file to override the Apache-wide configuration file, with:

(...)
        <Directory /home/*/public_html>
                AllowOverride All
                #AllowOverride FileInfo AuthConfig Limit Indexes
                #Options MultiViews Indexes SymLinksIfOwnerMatch IncludesNoExec
(...)

Restart Apache with sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart and you might be done!

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Drupal fatal error: cannot redeclare function()

Ever seen this when in Drupal’s administration pages?

Fatal error: Cannot redeclare getnodecount() (previously declared in /var/www/sites/site.org/htdocs/includes/common.inc(1685) : eval()'d code:3) in /var/www/sites/site.org/htdocs/includes/common.inc(1685) : eval()'d code on line 9

There are a few causes for this, as mentioned on drupal.org, but the one in which you might be interested (because your error message looks more similar to mine, above, than to the drupal.org documentation) is when PHP is actually contained in a block or node body. That’s something you should suspect if you see the above error message referring to PHP’s eval() function.

To fix this, do something in MySQL like

SELECT nid
FROM node_revisions
WHERE body LIKE '%getnodecount%';

And edit the offending nodes in Drupal with a URL such as
http://example.com/node/123/edit