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[UPDATED 2022] Change PHP version on Ubuntu, Linux

by Dillon - Updated -

In this post, I will show you how to change PHP version on Ubuntu, Linux. This also works on WSL. Follow this guide to set up Windows Sub System for Linux.

What will be covered:

For this example, we will be changing our PHP version from PHP 8.1 to PHP 5.6. This is a common change if you manage and maintain a legacy website or web application. Note: PHP 5.6 is in end of life and has not been supported since December 2018. You can find a supported version of PHP on the official PHP website.

As of writing this post, the currently supported versions of PHP are 7.4, 8.0, and 8.1.

Supported PHP versions

Change PHP version on Ubuntu, Linux for Apache2

First, you will need to install PHP 5.6. 

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y php5.6

Now we need to disable PHP 8.1 and enable PHP 5.6:

sudo a2dismod php8.1 // disables the current version of php
sudo a2enmod php5.6 // enables the new version of php

Don’t forget to restart Apache2.

sudo service apache2 restart

Next, ensure PHP 5.6 is enabled by running:

php -v

Change PHP version on Ubuntu, Linux for Nginx

First, you should take a backup of your configuration file. This will make it easier to restore if needed.

sudo cp /etc/nginx/sites-available/default /etc/nginx/sites-available/default.bak

Next, open the file in your favorite editor. In this example, we will be using Nano.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

Update the PHP-FPM socket to the new version.

fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php8.1-fpm.sock;

Its always best to test your configuration. To test your configuration for Nginx, run:

nginx -t

Finally, restart Nginx by running:

sudo service nginx restart

Change PHP CLI version

The steps to change your PHP CLI version are a little different. Use the commands below to change your PHP CLI version.

sudo update-alternatives --set php /usr/bin/php5.6
sudo update-alternatives --set phar /usr/bin/phar5.6
sudo update-alternatives --set phar.phar /usr/bin/phar.phar5.6


You have successfully changed your PHP version to an older version on Ubuntu, Linux.

Do you need to change PHP versions regularly?

Let me know in the comments.

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Dillon Smart

👋 Hey, I'm Dillon!

I'm a Full Stack developer from the U.K. I've been building websites and applications for 11 years! Along the way I've picked up a few things, and share them here on

Feel free to reach out on Twitter!

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