November 23, 2014

Installing Composer on DreamHost

Some people have had a hell of a time (including myself at one time) installing Composer on a shared DreamHost account Here’s how did it. I’m going to assume you know what a shell user is and how to use basic terminal (CLI/SSH).

  1. A shared DreamHost account
  2. Make sure your user is sftp (shell access)
  3. I suggest updating your domain that your installing composer on to run PHP 5.4.x w/ FastCGI
  4. Wait 5-10 minutes for everything to move to 5.4 (if your not there already)
Step 1: Running PHP 5.4 (or 5.3) in CLI (Command Line Interface)
  1. Login via SSH (if you are not logged in already)
  2. Navigate to ~/ ($ cd ~/)
  3. Create or edit the existing file ($ nano .bash_profile)
  4. On a new line copy and paste this code
    export PATH=/usr/local/php54/bin:$PATH
  5. Save the file and exit (CTRL+O then CTRL+X)
  6. You may need to logout and log back in
  7. If you’ve decided to run PHP 5.3 instead of PHP 5.4 change php54 to php53 in the path
Step 2: Enable the Phar Extension
  1. Login via Putty or whatever flavor you like
  2. Navigate to ~/ ($ cd ~/)
  3. Create the folder ~/.php ($ mkdir -p ~/.php/5.4)
  4. Create the file ~./.php/5.4/phprc ($ nano ~/.php/5.4/phprc)
  5. Pop these jewels into the file on seperate lines
    extension =
    suhosin.executor.include.whitelist = phar
  6. Save the file and exit (CTRL+O then CTRL+X)
  7. If you’ve decided to run PHP 5.3 instead of PHP 5.4 change 5.4 to 5.3 in the path


Step 3: Hurray!
  1. After you’ve completed steps 1 and 2, log out of putty and then log back in, run the command $ php -v or of that does not work for you run $ php --version and it should say that it’s running PHP 5.4 CLI.It should look something like this:
    PHP 5.4.11 (cli) (built: Feb 12 2013 19:02:05)
    Copyright (c) 1997-2013 The PHP Group 
    Zend Engine v2.4.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2013 Zend Technologies

    If not, then you’ve messed up somewhere along the line.

  2. Now you can run the following command in the directory you want to use Composer in (go to the directory first them run this command)
    curl -s | php
  3. You should see some installation success messages; this is good!
    If you see the following error:

    #!/usr/bin/env php
    Some settings on your machine make Composer unable to work properly.
    Make sure that you fix the issues listed below and run this script again:
    The phar extension is missing.
    Install it or recompile php without --disable-phar

    This means you’re on a DH server that has a different set of expectations for phrc. To fix it:

    $ cd ~/.php
    $ mkdir 5.4
    $ mv phprc 5.4/phprc

    (or, if you’re using PHP 5.3, that would be $ mkdir 5.3 and $ mv phprc 5.3/phprc)

  4. If you don’t see any errors, it should have been installed correctly, now try running it > php composer.phar
  5. By running the command above, you should see a list of green and grey items, you’ve installed composer
  6. I’ll assume from here on our you can read the composer documentation and usage 🙂


* You can find my initial writeup on my GH at

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