Running Apache/MySQL/PHP on Debian AMD64

I’ve been pulling my hair out for the last few weeks working on migrating over to a new server setup. The new setup runs on dual Opteron AMD64’s. AMD64’s are relatively new 64-bit processors that offer lots of processing power for very little money.

There are a few things you should pay attention to when running Apache, MySQL and PHP under these 64-bit processors.

  1. Bugs in MySQL (8555 and 3483) cause INSERT statements to hange indefinitely. A temporary work around is to add skip-concurrent-insert to your my.cnf.
  2. A bug in Apache’s regex.c engine causes problems with mod_rewrite on AMD64 (31858). You can either upgrade to Apache 2.0 or use the patch supplied in the bug to fix Apache 1.3.33. I continued to have problems running our code in 64-bit mode so I chose to run Apache in an i386 chroot using debootstrap (thanks to Jeremy)
  3. A bug in PHP’s strtotime() function (30215) causes the function to return huge numbers instead of -1 on error. This boned Smarty’s date_format on my sites.

Those were the serious problems I had getting things up and running. Other than that things appear to be running smoothly. The following is the work around I submitted to the Smarty mailing list concerning PHP’s strtotime() bug.

Why not put a check into the smarty_make_timestamp() function? It’s predictable in that it returns huge timestamps (3441718022400 is an example). The check could (and should) be removed once PHP fixes what appears to be a fairly simple bug.

So, until then, what do you do? Well, I’ve put together a simple fix. In plugins/shared.make_timestamp.php around line 51 there is something like this:

    $time = strtotime($string);
    if (is_numeric($time) && $time != -1) {
        return $time;

Change that to:

    static $endOfTime;
    if (!isset($endOfTime)) {
        // End of 32-bit UNIX time - 1
        // 19 Jan 2038 at 03:14 and 7
        $endOfTime = mktime(3,14,6,1,19,2038);

    $time = strtotime($string);
    if (is_numeric($time) && $time != -1 && $time < $endOfTime) {
        return $time;

This fixed my problem since the function fails in a predictable format on my Opteron box. Of course, it will break if this code is still running after Jan of 2038.

Works on Apache 2.0.53/PHP 4.3.10 under Debian GNU/Linux (2.6.8-10).

1 thought on “Running Apache/MySQL/PHP on Debian AMD64

  1. Are you running 64-bit versions of apache/php/mysql, or just the normal debian versions?



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