How to Solve "php-config is not installed" Error in Ubuntu 16?: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Solve “php-config is not installed” Error in Ubuntu 16?: A Comprehensive Guide

Author: Amresh Mishra | Published On: May 8, 2024

So, you’re cruising through your PHP development journey on Ubuntu 16, feeling pretty good about yourself, when out of nowhere, you hit a wall: the dreaded “php-config is not installed” error. Panic sets in, maybe a bit of anger, and you consider throwing your computer out the window. But hold on! Let’s take a deep breath and tackle this pesky error together. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to resolve this issue, step by step, with a sprinkle of humor to keep things light.

How to Solve "php-config is not installed" Error in Ubuntu 16?: A Comprehensive Guide

Why This Error Happens

Before diving into the fix, let’s understand why this error occurs. The php-config command is part of the PHP development package, which provides necessary tools for compiling PHP extensions and other development-related tasks. If it’s missing, it’s likely because the required package isn’t installed.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing “php-config is not installed” Error

Step 1: Update Your Package Lists

First things first, let’s ensure your package lists are up-to-date. Open your terminal and run:

sudo apt-get update

This command refreshes your package lists, so you have the latest versions available. Think of it as checking for new messages before replying to old ones. It’s just good practice.

Step 2: Install the PHP Development Package

Now, it’s time to install the PHP development package. This package is aptly named php-dev, which sounds like something you might call your developer buddy who always fixes your code at the last minute.

sudo apt-get install php-dev

This command will download and install the development tools necessary for PHP, including php-config. Sit back, sip your coffee, and let Ubuntu do its thing.

Step 3: Verify the Installation

Once the installation is complete, let’s verify that php-config is indeed installed. Type the following command:

php-config --version

If everything went smoothly, you should see the version of php-config displayed. Congratulations! You’ve passed the first hurdle.

Step 4: Adjusting the PATH Variable (If Necessary)

Sometimes, even after installing, your system might not recognize php-config. This can happen if the PATH variable isn’t set correctly. We can fix that.

First, find out where php-config is installed:

which php-config

You should get a response like /usr/bin/php-config. If not, note down the path. Next, add this path to your PATH variable:

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/bin

To make this change permanent, you’ll need to add it to your .bashrc or .bash_profile file:

echo 'export PATH=$PATH:/usr/bin' >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Step 5: Reinstalling PHP (If All Else Fails)

If you’re still facing issues, it might be time for more drastic measures: reinstalling PHP. Don’t worry, it sounds scarier than it is.

First, let’s remove the current installation:

sudo apt-get remove php*

Now, reinstall PHP along with the development package:

sudo apt-get install php php-dev

Again, verify the installation by running:

php-config --version

You should see the version number pop up, confirming that everything is back on track.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even with these steps, you might run into a few hiccups. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:

Issue 1: “Command ‘php-config’ not found”

If you still get this error, double-check the installation path and ensure it’s included in your PATH variable correctly. You might also need to restart your terminal or even reboot your system.

Issue 2: “Permission Denied”

If you encounter a permission denied error, you may need to run the commands with sudo. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

Issue 3: “Unable to locate package php-dev”

Ensure you’re using the correct package name. For different PHP versions, the package name might vary (e.g., php7.0-dev, php7.2-dev). Use the correct package name according to your PHP version.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What is php-config used for?

php-config is a script that comes with the PHP development tools. It provides configuration information about your PHP installation, which is crucial for compiling and installing PHP extensions.

Q2: Can I install php-config without sudo privileges?

Generally, no. Installing packages system-wide typically requires administrative privileges. You could install PHP locally in your home directory, but that’s a more advanced topic.

Q3: What if I need a specific version of php-config?

You can specify the PHP version during installation, for example:
sudo apt-get install php7.4-dev

Q4: Is there an alternative to php-config?

While there are other tools, php-config is the standard for PHP development. Alternatives might not offer the same level of integration or ease of use.

Q5: Why do I need the PHP development package?

The PHP development package provides essential tools for developing and compiling PHP extensions, which are often required for advanced PHP applications.


Solving the “php-config is not installed” error on Ubuntu 16 can feel like a daunting task, especially if you’re not a seasoned sysadmin. However, with a bit of patience and the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be back on track in no time. Remember, every coder faces these kinds of challenges. It’s how we handle them that sets us apart. So, take a deep breath, follow the steps, and soon you’ll have php-config up and running, ready to assist you in your PHP development endeavors. Happy coding!

Author: Amresh Mishra
Amresh Mishra is a passionate coder and technology enthusiast dedicated to exploring the vast world of programming. With a keen interest in web development, software engineering, and emerging technologies, Amresh is on a mission to share his knowledge and experience with fellow enthusiasts through his website,

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