Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Building PHP on AIX

This is more for my own benefit than anything else (or for anyone who stumbles across this through Google, or whatever search engine you prefer). I had quite the time building PHP on AIX, so I just wanted to chronicle what I did, including getting the PHP Excel package to work.

I roughly followed the steps for installing PHP on AIX available at:

That walked me through at least installing prerequisites, and any other Linux/Gnu tools I may want.

Now, I just wanted the command line executable, so I skipped Apache all together. So, I did the following to build it:
export PATH=/opt/freeware/bin:$PATH
export CC=xlc
export CXX=xlc++
./configure --prefix=/usr/local/php --with-gd --with-zlib-dir=/opt/freeware --enable-shared --enable-debug --enable-zip --disable-static --with-zlib --with-bz2 --with-jpeg-dir=/opt/freeware --with-png-dir=/opt/freeware --with-xpm-dir=/opt/freeware --with-freetype-dir=/opt/freeware
ulimit -S -d unlimited
gmake install

In case you're wondering, the ulimit command removes restrictions on how much memory can be used by processes in the current session. I also had to use gmake. With make, it just failed over and over and over again.

Now, the whole point of installing php was so that I could create Excel xlsx files (which can go beyond the line limit in Office 2003), so I used the current release found at:

Since I was building extremely large spreadsheets, I had to update the memory limit in php.ini (and I upped the max execution time for good measure). But, even with this, I was hitting memory caps. So, the first thing I did was use the same ulimit command (mentioned above) before executing the script. This helped with the medium-sized spreadsheets, but with the large ones I was getting a segmentation fault.

After a little research, I discovered the following page:

It explains why, when using XML (which the 2007 format uses), it can cause issues with processes that hog memory. So, I just took the solution from the page, which was to use the following command (in addition to the ulimit command) before calling the php script:
export LDR_CNTRL=MAXDATA=0x80000000

It was a mess, but I'm pretty sure it'll work now -- regardless of file size! It just takes awhile. The last test I did with 10 columns and around 66,000 rows took about 25 minutes and 800MB of memory to complete! Now if only PHPExcel would work on the amount of memory required (which I believe they are) we'll be in business.

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