Fighting with Gallery

May 13th, 2002

Install PHP CGI, or Turning Mole Hills into Mountains

I’ve always used PHP compiled into Apache, so PHP CGI was new to me. And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how the hell to begin. I searched the documentation, typed ./configure --help dozens of time, finally opening up the configure script and going through it line by line. I simply could not find a parameter, argument, option, environement variable, or config file, that said, “Build PHP as a CGI”. Which brings us to the problem of, “How does one document a negative?”

PHP apparently expects to be compiled as a CGI. The fact that no one does this, hasn’t changed that basic assumption. So just compile the damn thing sans --with-apache, and you’ve got a PHP CGI executable ready to go. Hmmm, we’re already 30 minutes over budget for installing Gallery, and we haven’t touched it.

Compiling, or Mop the Augean Stables

Well we’ve got configure in the bag, and the freshly downloaded 4.2.0 is happily compiling, but wait! Now make is having problems. Something about EX_OK being used before its defined. Screw it! We’ll switch back to 4.1.1 which is kicking around the src directory, and try to build that instead. Ok that worked.

Putter around trying to figure out how to enable PHP-CGI.

  • #!/usr/local/bin/php? No that doesn’t work.
  • AddHandler cgi-script .php? Hmmm, nothing.
  • AddHandler application/cgi-php, Action applicaton/cgi-php /usr/local/bin/php? 404, /usr/local/bin/php/~kellan/test.php not found.
Eventually settled on
AddHandler application/cgi-php Action applicaton/cgi-php /cgi-bin/php.cgi

If that was somewhere in the PHP docs (or in the Programming PHP book which I grabbed from Safari, I couldn’t find it.

Finally, we’re getting somewhere! Way, way, way past our 20 minutes of alloted time, but at this point, its Gallery or me.

And Gallery is still winning. A 505, and a quick check to errorlog, and for some reason PHP is segfaulting. I don’t why, something about the alignment of the moons. I futz with it, and decided that maybe I need to go back and check out 4.2.0.

Morefutzing, some cursing, a thrown pillow or two, and we’ve got the lastest version of libc6-dev, and the sysexits.h contained therein, and one brand spanking new php.cgi, version 4.2.0.

Debugging Gallery’s config wizard, or The Evil that is PHP.

All of Gallery’s wonderful configuration wizards are great…until they break. Kind of like Windows, but at least I had the source. So lets look behind the curtain….

The first time I saw it, I was blown away by Gallery’s wizard. This time I realized that PHP never stops being PHP, maybe it seems elegant, simple and intuitive, but under the covers its still an ugly hack.

  • Gallery was checking my .htaccess file by trying to fiddle a php.ini value, to prepend a file containing a global variable. Ingenous! I didn’t think you could test the .htaccess stuff without deep hooks into Apache’s core. I went looking for some mechanism for querying Apache, or parsing config files, or something. It took me forever until I realized that that peculiar little autoprependfile phpvalueok.php was performing the magic.

    But what if you’re running in CGI mode, and phpvalue isn’t supported? (if you’re me, you comment out that check, and move on)

  • Gallery was checking to see if modrewrite was working, very logically, by rewriting a url, and seeing if it worked. In and of itself, not a bad idea. (now that we had determined it didn’t have a magic way to ask Apache about this stuff)

    But when Gallery started turning up false negatives, claiming my modrewrite didn’t work I was stumped. Much, much, too much later, and after much pain, and gnashing of teeth, I realised that Gallery was testing for the existence of a variable “initmodrewrite” that was never set, and therefore must be expecting PHP to magic it into existence. (and here we note the difference between C which refused to compile without knowing what EXOK was, and PHP who sailed along blindly without a care in the world)

    Well it is a reasonable assumption in PHP for variables to magically appear, and a trip to php.ini, to turn on registerglobals; an option that magicks into existence variables containing anything passed in the query string.(say if you’re script uses modrewrite to tack initmodrewrite=1 on to the end of your url)

    • Gallery’s FAQ does actually have the question, “The setup page tells me that modrewrite is not installed. Since modrewrite is optional, how do I configure this option?” But the answer is less then helpful.
    • A Google search show that the term registerglobals is only used once on the Gallery website, in the notes for the pre-release version of Gallery 1.3

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