Use multiple php versions on macOS / Linux

January 10th, 2022 (Updated April 15th, 2024)

Why follow this guide? I use php everyday and this is the most simple and flexible solution I found.

The end goal

  • Have multiple versions of php installed
  • Use php 8.2 when you run php
  • Use php 8.1 when you run php81
  • Use php 8.0 when you run php80
  • Use php 7.4 when you run php7
  • (bonus) Run composer with php 8.1 when you run composer81
  • (bonus) Run composer with php 7.4 when you run composer7

The Steps

MacOS

I prefer this solution over brew solutions with link and unlink.

  • Install both the default php package 8.1 and the older php7.4 / php8.0 packages

    # Install php (defaults to version 8.2).
    brew install php
    
    # Install older php 8.0.
    brew install php@8.1
    
    # Install older php 8.0.
    brew install php@8.0
    
    # Add brew tap for old php versions.
    brew tap shivammathur/php
    
    # Install older php 7.4.
    brew install shivammathur/php/php@7.4
    
  • Make php 8.2 the default

    # Lets start clean and unlink all php versions
    brew unlink php
    brew unlink php@7.4
    brew unlink php@8.0
    brew unlink php@8.1
    
    # Link php 8.2
    brew link php
    
  • Create extra symlinks for php 7.4, 8.0, and 8.1

    # Create a symlinks in /usr/local/bin. You will likely have to run sudo.
    ln -s /opt/homebrew/opt/php@8.1/bin/php /usr/local/bin/php81
    ln -s /opt/homebrew/opt/php@8.0/bin/php /usr/local/bin/php80
    ln -s /opt/homebrew/opt/php@7.4/bin/php /usr/local/bin/php7
    
  • (bonus) Setup composer shortcuts to run composer with specific php versions.

    # .bashrc or .zshrc or equivalent
    
    alias composer7='php7 /usr/local/bin/composer'
    alias composer81='php81 /usr/local/bin/composer'
    
  • Remove any manual php $PATH setups in your .bashrc or .zshrc (or equivalent). It may look like this.

    # .bashrc or .zshrc or equivalent
    
    # Remove any lines like this!
    export PATH="/opt/homebrew/opt/php@8.1/sbin:$PATH"
    export PATH="/usr/local/opt/php@7.4/bin:$PATH"
    

Linux (using pamac)

  • Install both default php package and older php7.4 package. The ArchWiki will always have the latest instructions but this what I did at the time.
    # Install php (defaults to version 8).
    pamac install php
    
    # Install older php 7.4.
    pamac install php74
    
  • Setup symlinks.
    # Setup php 7 as the version to be used when you run "php7".
    sudo ln -s /usr/bin/php74 /usr/local/bin/php7
    

The Result

  • Output of php -v

    $ php -v
    PHP 8.2.2 (cli) (built: Feb  5 2023 12:38:16) (NTS)
    Copyright (c) The PHP Group
    Zend Engine v4.2.2, Copyright (c) Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v8.2.2, Copyright (c), by Zend Technologies
    
  • Output of php7 -v

    $ php7 -v
    PHP 7.4.33 (cli) (built: Jan 21 2023 06:43:54) ( NTS )
    Copyright (c) The PHP Group
    Zend Engine v3.4.0, Copyright (c) Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v7.4.33, Copyright (c), by Zend Technologie
    
  • Output of php80 -v

    $ php81 -v
    PHP 8.0.27 (cli) (built: Jan 12 2023 04:00:24) ( NTS )
    Copyright (c) The PHP Group
    Zend Engine v4.0.27, Copyright (c) Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v8.0.27, Copyright (c), by Zend Technologies
    
  • Output of php81 -v

    $ php81 -v
    PHP 8.1.15 (cli) (built: Feb  3 2023 12:35:11) (NTS)
    Copyright (c) The PHP Group
    Zend Engine v4.1.15, Copyright (c) Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v8.1.15, Copyright (c), by Zend Technologies