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Running PHP as a Service on Win32

[Update: I wrote some docs for the php manual]

So, you've written some kind of super-duper daemon process in PHP, perhaps using the event extension and stream_socket_server(). On Unix, it's quite a simple matter to have it run from init (or maybe inetd) when your machine starts... but doing the same on windows isn't possible without some hacks. Until now.

Last night I put together 2 new extensions for windows; the first of these is called win32service and it allows you run your PHP scripts from the "Service Control Manager" (SCM). The SCM is roughly analagous to the init process on unix, in that it runs tasks on startup and monitors their status, optionally restarting them if something goes awry.

I've included a sample service script that demonstrates minimal usage. Before you can run a script as a service, you need to register it with the SCM; in the sample, you do this by running it with the "install" argument on the command line. Once installed, you can use either the services MMC snap-in (run services.msc, or look for it under "Administrative Tools") or the good old fashined "net" command to launch or stop the service. I prefer the latter:

   net start dummyphp

The output from the command should indicate the service started correctly; use the task manager to verify this--you should see a php.exe process running as SYSTEM. This dummy service does nothing much; just sleeps and waits for the SCM to tell it to stop; lets do that now:

   net stop dummyphp

Again, the output from that command should indicate that the service stopped, and your task manager should no longer show php.exe running as SYSTEM. Now that we've proved that it works, we should remove the same from the SCM; running the script with the "uninstall" argument will do this.

It's all pretty straight-forward; the most complicated part is the win32_create_service() function; the first argument is an array that describes the service; the following keys are supported:

  • service - the short name of the service. You can't have two services with the same name.
  • display - the display name of the service.
  • user - the account name under which to run the service. If omitted, runs as the local system account
  • password - the password to match the "user" setting.
  • path - full path to the binary to run. If omitted, the full path to the currently running process will be used (typically php.exe)
  • params - command line parameters to pass to the binary. You'll probably want to specify the full path to a PHP script, plus some parameter to indicate that the script should run as a service.

(there are some more keys but they're not fully supported yet)

When it comes to actually running your service, you should call win32_start_service_ctrl_dispatcher() and pass in the name of the service. This function checks-in with the SCM; it is especially important that you do this as soon as possible in your script, as the SCM blocks while it waits for you to check-in--you can cause system-wide issues if you take too long.

While your service is running, you should periodically check to see if the SCM has requested that you stop. One way to do this is to wrap the main body of your service code in a while loop like this:

   while (WIN32_SERVICE_CONTROL_STOP != win32_get_last_control_message()) {
      // do stuff here, but try not to take more than a few seconds

If you already have an event loop, you can fold the above into your application. If you're using the event extension, you can schedule a recurrent timed event to check for the stop condition.

And that's pretty much all there is to say for now. I strongly recommend that you look through the MSDN documentation on services; it's very valuable background information.

The binaries for PHP 5 should show up under in the next couple of hours.

Enjoy :)

PDO Slides from php|works 2005

You can find the slides from PDO talk here.

While I'm here talking about PDO, I wanted to give you a heads up. PDO 1.0RC2 will move from PDO_XXX style constants to using class based constants like PDO::XXX. The reason for this change is that it will fit in with namespace support in PHP when it is implemented.

Yes, this should have been changed before 1.0RC1, but we only just talked about it over the last couple of days. Sorry.

This change has not yet been made, I'm just letting you know in advance; we'll be pushing out a release with this change over the next week, after making sure we're not going to make another change like this.

PDO 1.0RC1

I spent pretty much all day working through the outstanding PDO bugs listed on and There are now no known problems with any of the main-stream drivers, so I've bumped the version numbers up to 1.0RC1 and released them via PECL (ODBC and OCI package releases are pending build/install tests).

Please make the effort to download and use them so that we can catch any remaining bugs; we're getting very close to PHP 5.1 stable, and I really want you to catch any problems with the way that you use it before the release date, rather than the day after.

I've also been fleshing out the PDO docs in the PHP online manual; those changes will be picked up when it is next built and pushed to the mirrors.


Updated oci8 extension now in PECL

You may have heard of the Zend Core for Oracle; as part of that project the oci8 extension for PHP received a lot of attention from teams of people from Zend, Oracle and OmniTI. As a result, the oci8 extension is now more robust, performant, better documented and more thoroughly tested than ever before (the list of closed bugs is enourmous).

Although the extension is currently marked as beta, it's a significant improvement over the older versions that have shipped with PHP.

The updated code is available now via PECL, and will compile against PHP 4 and PHP 5 (Windows users can obtain the updated extension DLL via snaps).

Installation on unix should be as simple as:

   # pear install oci8-beta

However, if you compiled the oci8 extension statically, you will need to recompile PHP using --with-oci8=shared (or --without-oci8) before this will work.

Updated documentation will be appearing at your local PHP documentation mirror as soon as the manual build finishes.

Many thanks to Antony Dovgal for doing the lions share of the implementation and testing; good work Tony!

php dtrace 1.0.3

I added two new probe parameters to the dtrace module; they don't do anything useful with PHP 4, but if you're running PHP 5, they add the classname (arg3) and a scoping operator (arg4) (either "::", "->" or "") that are filled in when making a call to an object or a static call to a class.

This means that you can use the concatentation of arg3, arg4 and arg0 (in that order) for the full name of the method or function being called.

I can probably fill in those things for PHP 4, but I didn't have the time to do that yet; I pushed this release because I'm likely to get too busy to do it otherwise :)

I also refined the build process very slightly; if you're running on 64-bit, you should have better luck.

One of these days (maybe at php|works) I'll write up some more docs on using dtrace. If you're on solaris and want to try it, let me know and I'll give you some pointers. If you're not on solaris, you can't use dtrace :)

php (and web) | works 2005

I'm looking forward to php|works this year. I have the privilege of presenting two sessions; the "usual" PDO talk and my "lucky dip" streams talk (a mixture of streams related things), which seemed to go down quite well with the attendees of php|tropics.

See you there?

toshiba hotkeys on solaris

Update: moved code to

Friday evening I sat down and wrote my first piece of solaris kernel code and an associated user-space application that activates the brightness up/down hotkeys for the LCD on my Toshiba Satellite M30.

I implemented a tosh_hci driver that can perform Toshiba Hardware Configuration Interface traps via an ioctl(2). This driver is really simple; the hardest part being the intel assembly needed to perform the trap (technically an inb instruction, not a trap).

The userspace code is a really slimmed down version of the code that I previously made available in my patch to the linux acpid. It currently only handles the LCD brightness keys because none of the features that the other hotkeys are supposed to invoke are currently supported by solaris/opensolaris.

Anyhoo, I've made the source available, under the CDDL, in a bundle here for any other toshibans that might like to get a bit more comfort factor back when running solaris.

Please don't write code like this:

    function getMTime($time)
        $mtime = ($time !== null ? getdate($time) : getdate());
        $mtime = getdate(mktime(0, 0, 0, 12, 32, 1997));
        $mtime = preg_replace(
                            ($mtime['mon'    ]<<21)|
                            ($mtime['mday'   ]<<16)|
                            ($mtime['hours'  ]<<11)|
        eval('$mtime = "'.$mtime.'";');
        return $mtime;