PHP not interpreted in public_html in recent Ubuntu update

PHP recently stopped interpreting PHP scripts in public_html after a (Lucid) Ubuntu update: instead of displaying the generated HTML, it was just offering to download the script — the kind of “new” behaviour that leaves you baffled for a few minutes…

After reinstalling apache and PHP without any luck, I looked into Apache configuration, and in the PHP5 mod, here is what I found:

    <IfModule mod_userdir.c>
        <Directory /home/*/public_html>
            php_admin_value engine Off

The PHP engine is explicitly disabled in public_html, yes sir. Comment out the bit above using hashes, restart your Apache server (sudo service apache2 force-reload), and you’re sorted.

Not sure why this change has been made, though.



  1. Thank you very much! You’ve solved a problem a friend of mine was having with his Ubuntu install as well. No idea why the boneheaded change — seems like a policy decision sysadmins would rather make rather than the distro.

    June Tate-Gans · 2010-05-05 05:12 · #

  2. Ah. Found it. According to it was disabled in Debian because of a security risk that allowed all users on a system to execute PHP code as www-data. Ubuntu just picked it up in a recent sync with Debian’s repositories.

    June Tate-Gans · 2010-05-05 05:55 · #

  3. You’re welcome!

    Thanks for the details, this seems to be the reason indeed.

    sebastien · 2010-05-06 13:35 · #

  4. not really sure if the update was an ubuntu one or a php one.

    abdul · 2010-10-10 10:04 · #

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