I need my PATH environment variable to include /usr/local/bin when seen from PHP, so that I can execute binaries that are in /usr/local/bin with exec() in PHP code without writing their full path, e.g. exec("ffmpeg");

If from php I run echo getenv("PATH") it outputs: /sbin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/usr/bin

However if I log into the server as root via ssh and I write in the terminal echo $PATH I get: //sbin://bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/root/bin

So the /usr/local/bin is already included when I log into the command line, but not when PHP is run.

So how do I add directories to the path environment variable in such a way that they are recognized also by PHP?

I tried to add SetEnv PATH $PATH:/usr/local/bin to /var/www/vhosts/mydomain.net/conf/vhost.conf (which contains other directives which do have effect), but it doesn't change a thing. I also tried by adding that to a .htaccess file (dunnow if it made sense) but it didn't work either.

I already searched the forum and found a lot of similar or identical questions but no answer, or at least none that works.

3 Answers 3


In your apache startup script, try to export your custom path.

IIRC, Apache defaults to common envvars when started. So, even changing its value in user's env won't do the trick.

  • What is the apache startup script that I have to edit?
    – matteo
    Jun 7, 2011 at 9:23
  • /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd is default startup script for Apache on CentOS
    – AlexD
    Jun 7, 2011 at 15:38

edit the php.ini the clause include_path indicate in which path php take the script.

  • I think include_path is for php files to be included with the include() and require() directives, I don't think that has any relation with the environment variable PATH, or has it?
    – matteo
    Jun 4, 2011 at 15:15

Well, depending on your needs you can either set it in the script (Documenation Link)

 // Works as of PHP 4.3.0

// Works in all PHP versions
ini_set('include_path', '/inc');

or you can set it in the php.ini file itself (Documentation Link)

  • I may be wrong but I don't think that has anything to do with my question which was about the PATH environment variable for executing binaries with exec()... or will the include_path directive also work for exec()??
    – matteo
    Jun 4, 2011 at 15:18

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