PHP and SQL Server for Linux

This week we tested the public preview of Microsoft SQL Server for Linux using PHP 7 with our component zendframework/zend-db.

Microsoft announced the availability of a public preview of SQL Server for Linux on the 16th of November, 2016. This new version of SQL Server has some interesting features such as:

  • transparent data encryption;
  • always encrypted;
  • row level security;
  • in-memory tables;
  • columnstore indexing;
  • native JSON support;
  • support for in-database analytics with R-integration.

Moreover, the performance of the new DBMS seems to be very impressive. Microsoft published a case study with 1.2 million requests per second with In-Memory OLTP on a single commodity server.

We tested the last preview of SQL Server (CTP1.2 - using a Vagrant box with Ubuntu 16.04 and 4 GB RAM.

Install SQL Server on Linux

We followed the instructions list on the Microsoft website to install SQL Server for PHP on Ubuntu 16.04.

To ensure optimal performance of SQL Server, the Ubuntu box should have at least 4 GB of memory.

The first step is to add the GPG key for the Microsoft repositories.

$ sudo su
$ curl | apt-key add -
$ curl > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mssql-server.list
$ exit

Then we can update the repository list and install the mssql-server package, using the following commands:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install mssql-server

Now we can run the setup for sqlserver. We will be required to accept the EULA and choose a password for the System Administrator (SA).

sudo /opt/mssql/bin/sqlservr-setup

After the installation, we will have SQL Server running on Linux!

Install the command line utility for SQL Server

Now that we have the DBMS running, we need a tool to access it. Microsoft provides a command line tool named sqlcmd. This program is very similar to the MySQL client tool, quite familiar to PHP developers.

To install sqlcmd, we need to run the following commands:

$ sudo su
$ curl > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mssql-tools.list
$ exit
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install msodbcsql mssql-tools unixodbc-dev
$ echo 'export PATH="$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin"' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ echo 'export PATH="$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin"' >> ~/.bashrc
$ source ~/.bashrc


Though the Microsoft documentation does not indicate it, we also installed msodbcsql; without it, we ran into dependency issues.

If the installation was successful, we can start using the command line tool. For instance, we can ask for the SQL Server vesion using the following instruction:

$ sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P yourpassword -Q "SELECT @@VERSION"

where yourpassword should be replaced with the SA password that you choose during the SQL Server setup.

This command will return output like the following:

Microsoft SQL Server vNext (CTP1.2) - (X64)
	Jan 10 2017 19:15:28
	Copyright (C) 2016 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
	on Linux (Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS)

Install the SQL Server extension for PHP

Next, we need to install the PHP extension for SQL Server. This can be done using PECL.


If you do not have PECL installed on Ubuntu, you can install it with the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install php-dev

To install the sqlsrv and pdo_sqlsrv extensions for PHP, we need to execute the following commands:

$ sudo apt-get install unixodbc-dev gcc g++ build-essential
$ sudo pecl install sqlsrv pdo_sqlsrv

Finally, we need to add the directives and to our PHP configuration (generally php.ini). In our case, running Ubuntu (or any other Debian-flavored distribution) we have the PHP configuration files stored in /etc/php/7.0/mods-available. We can create sqlsrv.ini and pdo_sqlsrv.ini containing the respective configurations. As a last step, we need to link these configurations to our specific PHP environments. For this, you can have two choices:

  • For Ubuntu, you can use the phpenmod command.
  • Alternately, you can symlink to the appropriate directory.

For our purposes, we are using PHP 7.0, from the CLI SAPI, so we can do either of the following:

# Using phpenmod:
$ sudo phpenmod -v 7.0 -s cli sqlsrv pdo_sqlsrv
# Manually symlinking:
$ sudo ln -s /etc/php/7.0/mods-available/sqlsrv.ini /etc/php/7.0/cli/conf.d/20-sqlsrv.ini
$ sudo ln -s /etc/php/7.0/mods-available/pdo_sqlsrv.ini /etc/php/7.0/cli/conf.d/20-pdo_sqlsrv.ini

Integration tests with zend-db

We used the above information to add support for SQL Server to the zendframework/zend-db vagrant configuration, used by developers to test against the various database platforms we support.

We updated the Vagrantfile, enabling integration tests for MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQL Server on Linux, to read as follows:

$install_software = <<SCRIPT
export DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive
apt-get -yq update

apt-get -yq install postgresql

# Allow external connections to PostgreSQL as postgres
sed -i "s/#listen_addresses = 'localhost'/listen_addresses = '*'/" /etc/postgresql/9.5/main/postgresql.conf
sed -i "s/peer/trust/" /etc/postgresql/9.5/main/pg_hba.conf
echo 'host all all trust' >> /etc/postgresql/9.5/main/pg_hba.conf
service postgresql restart

debconf-set-selections <<< "mysql-server mysql-server/root_password password Password123"
debconf-set-selections <<< "mysql-server mysql-server/root_password_again password Password123"
apt-get -yq install mysql-server

# Allow external connections to MySQL as root (with password Password123)
sed -i 's/127\.0\.0\.1/0\.0\.0\.0/g' /etc/mysql/mysql.conf.d/mysqld.cnf
mysql -u root -pPassword123 -e 'USE mysql; UPDATE `user` SET `Host`="%" WHERE `User`="root" AND `Host`="localhost"; DELETE FROM `user` WHERE `Host` != "%" AND `User`="root"; FLUSH PRIVILEGES;'
service mysql restart

# More info here:

curl -s | apt-key add -
curl -s > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mssql-server.list
apt-get -yq update
apt-get -yq install mssql-server
printf "YES\nPassword123\nPassword123\ny\ny" | /opt/mssql/bin/sqlservr-setup

curl -s > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mssql-tools.list
apt-get -yq update
ACCEPT_EULA=Y apt-get -yq install msodbcsql mssql-tools unixodbc-dev
echo 'export PATH="$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin"' >> /home/vagrant/.bash_profile
echo 'export PATH="$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin"' >> /home/vagrant/.bashrc
source /home/vagrant/.bashrc

$setup_vagrant_user_environment = <<SCRIPT
if ! grep "cd /vagrant" /home/vagrant/.profile > /dev/null; then
  echo "cd /vagrant" >> /home/vagrant/.profile

Vagrant.configure(2) do |config| = 'bento/ubuntu-16.04'
  config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |v|
    v.memory = 4096
    v.cpus = 2
  end "private_network", ip: ""

  config.vm.provision 'shell', inline: $install_software
  config.vm.provision 'shell', privileged: false, inline: '/vagrant/.ci/'
  config.vm.provision 'shell', privileged: false, inline: '/vagrant/.ci/'
  config.vm.provision 'shell', privileged: false, inline: '/vagrant/.ci/'
  config.vm.provision 'shell', inline: $setup_vagrant_user_environment

This vagrant configuration installs Ubuntu 16.04 with 4 GB of RAM and the following databases (user and password are reported in parenthesis):

  • MySQL 5.7.17 (root/Password123)
  • PostgreSQL 9.5 (postgres/postgres)
  • SQL Server (sa/Password123)

We can use this virtual machine to run PHPUnit for the zend-db integration tests. If you want to test this vagrant box, you can clone the zend-db repository and run the following command:

$ vagrant up

This creates a VM running with IP

More information

In this post, we've demonstrated how to install the public preview release of SQL Server on Ubuntu. Microsoft also provides support for other Linux distributions, such as Red Hat and Suse.

You can also install this new SQL Server preview on Windows, macOS, Azure or using a preconfigured Docker container.

Get more information on SQL Server for Linux from the official website. Find specific information on how to use SQL Server with PHP here.



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