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A PHP Development Stack on Ubuntu/Linux

April 21, 2023

Building up on my last post, this is a guide to setting up a buttery smooth PHP development workflow on Ubuntu/Linux.

Requirements and Prerequisites

Going ahead make sure you have these checked off -

  • Ubuntu 22.04 LTS or newer
  • Homebrew (Linuxbrew) installed

Before we begin, let’s quickly run through pending some system checks -

  • Check for updates and upgrades
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
  • Then some other packages we’ll need to install PHP
sudo apt install software-properties-common ca-certificates lsb-release apt-transport-https
  • Now, let’s add the Ondřej Surý PHP PPA
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php
  • And finally, let’s update the package manager cache
sudo apt update

Installing one or more PHP versions

If you have worked on PHP frameworks or libs, you know we have to work on multiple PHP versions at the same time swicthing between projects. So, let’s get started with installing PHP versions.

Now, let’s start by installing PHP 8.1, 8.0 and 7.4 using Homebrew -

brew install php@8.1 php@8.0 php@7.4

You can also install a single PHP version by skipping other params, like this -

brew install php

What the above will do is install the latest PHP version available on Homebrew.

Switching between PHP versions

To switch between these PHP versions at any time, you can use the update-alternatives command -

sudo update-alternatives --config php

Installing PHP extensions

Most of the time, we need to install some PHP extensions to get our projects up and running. So, let’s install some of the most commonly used extensions -

sudo apt install php8.1-mysql php8.1-mbstring php8.1-xml php8.1-curl

You can replace php8.1 with any other PHP version you have installed or do multiples.

Installing Composer

Composer is a dependency manager for PHP (like NPM for NodeJS). It allows you to declare the libraries your project depends on and it will manage (install/update) them for you.

To install Composer, run the following command in your terminal -

php -r "copy('', 'composer-setup.php');"
php -r "if (hash_file('sha384', 'composer-setup.php') === '55ce33d7678c5a611085589f1f3ddf8b3c52d662cd01d4ba75c0ee0459970c2200a51f492d557530c71c15d8dba01eae') { echo 'Installer verified'; } else { echo 'Installer corrupt'; unlink('composer-setup.php'); } echo PHP_EOL;"
php composer-setup.php
php -r "unlink('composer-setup.php');

You will also like to add the Composer’s global bin directory to your PATH so the composer executable can be located by your system. To do so, run the following command -

sudo mv composer.phar /usr/local/bin/composer

Installing Valet for Linux

Valet is a Laravel development environment for Mac minimalists, sadly it only supports macOS at the time of writing this. There is a fork of Laravel Valet available in the name of Valet Linux. It brings all the goodness of Laravel Valet to Linux.

To install Valet Linux, run the following command -

composer global require cpriego/valet-linux

Then, run the following command to initialize Valet Linux -

~/.config/composer/vendor/bin/valet install

or beter yet if you have added the Composer’s global bin directory to your PATH -

valet install

This will install and configure Nginx, dnsmasq, and the active PHP version you want to use for serving sites on the go.

Setting up a sites folder

To load your sites, you need to create a Sites directory in your home directory, and link the Sites directory to Valet Linux’s www directory.

You can do so by running the following command -

mkdir ~/Sites && cd ~/Sites && valet park

Now any folder you create inside the Sites directory will be accessible through a URL. For example, if you create a ~/Sites/laravel directory, it will be accessible at http://laravel.test.

To get more information about Valet Linux, and configuring it to your wildest dreams visit here - Valet Linux.

Installing MySQL

With site serving setup, you will most likely need a database to store your data. We’ll be using MySQL for this.

To install MySQL, run the following command -

sudo apt install mariadb-server

Then, run the following command to secure your MySQL installation -

sudo mysql_secure_installation

Just follow the questions next and you’ll be good to go.

Installing MySQL GUI client aka TablePlus

TablePlus is a modern, native GUI tool for relational databases, I fell in love with it since I have been using it on macOS. To my surprise, it’s available for Linux as well. So, let’s install it -

  • First, add the TablePlus GPG key
wget -qO - | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/tableplus-archive.gpg > /dev/null
  • Then, add the TablePlus repository to your system
sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] tableplus main"
  • Finally, install TablePlus
sudo apt update && sudo apt install tableplus

You can now configure TablePlus app which is installed in Ubuntu softwares, to connect to your MySQL database.


This was a quick documentation on my setup for PHP development on Ubuntu/Linux. For those who can’t afford a macOS device right now, I personally think this is the best development flow you can have almost identical to that of desired. I truly hope this helps you get started with PHP development on Linux.

This is a work in progress and I’ll keep updating it as I go along. I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.

Happy coding!