Dreamhost php-cgi use different php.ini per directory

The popular gallery webapp still uses dated short PHP open tags <?, this makes it difficult to deploy in a subdirectory of a site that uses XHTML which requires short_open_tag=off to use &lt?xml… headers, leading to the following error.

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_STRING in /home/foo/example.com/index.php on line 3

This problem is further complicated by PHP CGI which means that php_value directives in .htaccess files cannot be used as they are with mod_php.

The solution: Per directory .htaccess calling php-cgi with a different php.ini directory.

/cgi-bin/php.ini                   < contains short_open_tag=off to support XHTML
/cgi-bin/php-wrapper.fcgi          < calls /dh/cgi-system/php5.cgi
/cgi-bin/php-wrapper-gallery.fcgi  < call /dh/cgi-system/php5.cgi -c /home/foo/example.com/gallery
/gallery/.htaccess                 < Points at php-wrapper.fcgi
/gallery/php.ini                   < contains short_open_tag=on
/gallery/.htaccess                 < Points at php-wrapper-gallery.fcgi

What it looks like in terms of processes…

ps afx | grep php5.cgi
33603 ?        R      0:00 /dh/cgi-system/php5.cgi -c /home/foo/example.com/gallery
32621 ?        S      0:03 /dh/cgi-system/php5.cgi

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