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PHP supports a CLI SAPI as of PHP 4.3.0. The main focus of this SAPI is for developing shell applications with PHP. There are quite a few differences between the CLI SAPI and other SAPIs which are explained in this chapter. It is worth mentioning that CLI and CGI are different SAPIs although they do share many of the same behaviors.

The CLI SAPI is enabled by default using --enable-cli , but may be disabled using the --disable-cli option when running ./configure.

The name, location and existence of the CLI/CGI binaries will differ depending on how PHP is installed on your system. By default when executing make, both the CGI and CLI are built and placed as sapi/cgi/php-cgi and sapi/cli/php respectively, in your PHP source directory. You will note that both are named php. What happens during make install depends on your configure line. If a module SAPI is chosen during configure, such as apxs, or the --disable-cgi option is used, the CLI is copied to {PREFIX}/bin/php during make install otherwise the CGI is placed there. So, for example, if --with-apxs is in your configure line then the CLI is copied to {PREFIX}/bin/php during make install. If you want to override the installation of the CGI binary, use make install-cli after make install. Alternatively you can specify --disable-cgi in your configure line.


Because both --enable-cli and --enable-cgi are enabled by default, simply having --enable-cli in your configure line does not necessarily mean the CLI will be copied as {PREFIX}/bin/php during make install.

As of PHP 5, the CLI binary is distributed in the main folder as php.exe on Windows. The CGI version is distributed as php-cgi.exe. Additionally, a php-win.exe is distributed if PHP is configured using --enable-cli-win32 . This does the same as the CLI version, except that it doesn't output anything and thus provides no console.

Note: What SAPI do I have?

From a shell, typing php -v will tell you whether php is CGI or CLI. See also the function php_sapi_name() and the constant PHP_SAPI.


A Unix manual page is available by typing man php in the shell environment.

PHP Manual