A comparison chart of PHP Environment variables

One of the little quirks the php framework developer has to face when confronted with the daunting task of writing real portable code is figuring out which global variables will be available in every single conceivable user setup (and in most of the unthinkable ones), and what kind of values they will assume.
Although the online manual does a pretty good job in describing where the environment variables are supposed to come from, and their supposed usage, it sports no single, comprehensive list of all the junk that might – or not – be filling up the “Environment” section of the global namespace.
Having wrestled with php deployments ranging from SCO Openserver (brr…) to windows to solaris 32 and 64 bits, I set up to publish my own findings.
The list can be found here: http://gggeek.altervista.org/sw/env_vars_comparison_chart.xhtml. People on slow links please note it weights in at 300k.
In its present incarnation it is based exclusively on windows installs. I plan to add some more unix goodiness later on, but any contribution is welcome (a printout of your phpinfo will do, or, in case you value privacy and security, a plain list of the values in the ‘env’ and ‘server’ sections).
The colors, more or less, indicate:

  • red: value or variable name changes from server to server (eg. some values change casing, such as PATH vs. Path, COMSPEC, )
  • yellow: variable is in the cgi spec, but the server omits it…
  • gray: variable is present in all setups tested: it can be used reliably
  • blue: variable should not be present in CLI versions, it can be thus safely used to test if app is called via web or not

Also note that “script name” in some settings will point to php executable, not php script.
In no particular order, things that should be done before the table is considered reliable include: add a column with exaple values, testing all php setups without a php.ini file active, test with IIS in isapi mode, apache 1 in mod_apache mode, apache in ssl mode, cgi mode when run from command line, version 4 cli, linux / solaris installs, separate clearly variables from the windows environment from the more “general” ones, add some insight on usage of REGISTER_GLOBALS, variables_order, and other assorted ini settings that might influence the php environment.

Edit: (2007/02/14)
A similar table, with better formatting, can be found here, while a discussion on this topic a little while ago was here

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