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Disabling xdebug when running composer

Posted by: admin November 11, 2017 Leave a comment


When running composer diagnose, I get the following error :

The xdebug extension is loaded, this can slow down Composer a little.
Disabling it when using Composer is recommended.

How can I disable xdebug only when I’m running Composer?


Update : The issue has been fixed in Composer 1.3. Update composer to the latest version by executing composer self-update, instead of trying the following workaround.

Here is my modification of @ezzatron’s code. I have updated the script to detect ini files from phpinfo output.


php_no_xdebug () {
    temporaryPath="$(mktemp -t php.XXXX).ini"

    # Using awk to ensure that files ending without newlines do not lead to configuration error
    php -i | grep "\.ini" | grep -o -e '\(/[a-z0-9._-]\+\)\+\.ini' | grep -v xdebug | xargs awk 'FNR==1{print ""}1' > "$temporaryPath"

    php -n -c "$temporaryPath" "[email protected]"
    rm -f "$temporaryPath"

php_no_xdebug /usr/local/bin/composer.phar [email protected]
# On MacOS with composer installed using brew, comment previous line
# Install jq by executing `brew install jq` and uncomment following line.
# php_no_xdebug /usr/local/Cellar/composer/`brew info --json=v1 composer | jq -r '.[0].installed[0].version'`/libexec/composer.phar [email protected]


This command will disable the PHP5 Xdebug module for CLI (and thus composer) :

sudo php5dismod -s cli xdebug

It removes the xdebug.ini symlink from /etc/php5/cli/conf.d/

This was suggested on http://blog.lorenzbausch.de/2015/02/10/php-disable-xdebug-for-cli/

Note that for Ubuntu 16.04 you probably need to run it like this:

sudo phpdismod -s cli xdebug


I don’t think there is an option to configure PHP so it can load different configurations according to the targeted script. At least, not without duplicating .ini files…

However, you can add thoses options when running composer with php:

php -n -d extension=needed_ext.so composer.phar

-n will tell PHP to ignore any php.ini. This will prevent xdebug from loading for this very command.

-d options permits you to add any option you want (for exemple, activate needed_ext.so). You can use multiple -d options. Of course, this is optional, you might not need it.

Then you can create an alias, to make it sugary again.

A typical solution (because composer needs json):

php -n -d extension=json.so composer.phar

greg0ire > my solution, based on that:

options=$(ls -1 /usr/lib64/php/modules| \

    grep --invert-match xdebug| \

    # remove problematic extensions
    egrep --invert-match 'mysql|wddx|pgsql'| \

    sed --expression 's/\(.*\)/ --define extension=/'| \

    # join everything together back in one big line
    tr --delete '\n'

# build the final command line
php --no-php-ini $options ~/bin/composer $*

alias composer=/path/to/bash/script.sh

It looks ugly (I tried and failed to do that with xargs), but works… I had to disable some extensions though, otherwise I get the following warnings:

PHP Warning:  PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library '/usr/lib64/php/modules/mysqli.so' - /usr/lib64/php/modules/mysqli.so: undefined symbol: mysqlnd_connect in Unknown on line 0
PHP Warning:  PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library '/usr/lib64/php/modules/pdo_mysql.so' - /usr/lib64/php/modules/pdo_mysql.so: undefined symbol: pdo_parse_params in Unknown on line 0
PHP Warning:  PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library '/usr/lib64/php/modules/pdo_pgsql.so' - /usr/lib64/php/modules/pdo_pgsql.so: undefined symbol: pdo_parse_params in Unknown on line 0
PHP Warning:  PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library '/usr/lib64/php/modules/wddx.so' - /usr/lib64/php/modules/wddx.so: undefined symbol: php_XML_SetUserData in Unknown on line 0


I came up with an answer that works pretty well for OSX, and could probably be adapted for any PHP version that loads its extensions using individual .ini files in the “additional ini dir”:


function php-no-xdebug {
    local temporaryPath="$(mktemp -t php-no-debug)"

    find /opt/local/etc/$1/php.ini /opt/local/var/db/$1/*.ini ! -name xdebug.ini | xargs cat > "$temporaryPath"
    php -n -c "$temporaryPath" "${@:2}"
    rm -f "$temporaryPath"

alias composer="php-no-xdebug php56 ~/bin/composer"


By creating an alias you’ll suppress that composer xdebug error message.

Just add this line to your ~/.bash_aliases within your system and it should work flawlessly.

alias composer="php -n /usr/local/bin/composer"

Reload the shell to make the new alias composer available.

source ~/.bash_profile


$ composer --version

You don’t necessarily need to use any other parameter.
Depending on your system you might have a .bashrc instead of .bash_profile.


As @AlexanderKachkaev mention in the comments it’s worth nothing to add the memory_limit as follows to avoid crashing im some situations:

alias composer="php -d memory_limit=-1 -n /usr/local/bin/composer"


I usually create a shell script per project, since every project has another PHP version. It’s in a /bin/ directory next to composer.phar and composer.json and I run it as ./bin/composer in my project directory.

It looks like this (for php56)

DIR="$( cd "$( dirname "${BASH_SOURCE[0]}" )" && pwd )"

COMPOSER_DISABLE_XDEBUG_WARN=1 /opt/local/bin/php56 \
    -d xdebug.remote_enable=0 -d xdebug.profiler_enable=0 \
    -d xdebug.default_enable=0 $DIR/../composer.phar "[email protected]"

The -d options effectively disable xdebug. The COMPOSER_DISABLE_XDEBUG_WARN=1 part disables the warning composer issues.

Disabling the xdebug extension is preferred (see composer troubleshooting), but I personally like the simpler script.

Some timings on my machine:
Run with xdebug and ini-enabled: 1m33

Run with xdebug but ini-disabled: 0m19

Run without xdebug: 0m10


If you use PHPStorm, the latest release (2016.2) comes with a feature to enable XDebug for CLI scripts on-demand, which means you can simply turn off XDebug globally on your development machine. The IDE will enable it on the fly when it is needed by code inside your projects.


PhpStorm 2016.2 introduces Xdebug On Demand mode where you can disable Xdebug for your global PHP install, and PhpStorm will only enable it when it needs to — when you’re debugging your scripts, or when you need code coverage reports.

You need to edit your PHP Interpreters preferences to include the path to XDebug, as described in the linked article.

To me this seems like the perfect solution, as I only usually want XDebug while I’m in the IDE.

However XDebug does have other potential uses when you are “offline” e.g. extended stack dumps in error logs, which you would lose by turning it off globally. Of course you shouldn’t have XDebug enabled on production, so this would be limited to use cases like beta-testing or automated-testing CLI scripts in development.


I came up with a solution for the Windows-based Composer installer – it should work for any Composer installation, it just basically makes a copy of the loaded INI file and comments out the xdebug zend extension, then loads that configuration file when it runs composer.

I’ve opened an issue to see if they’d like to integrate this change:


You can find my instructions and code there.


Direct manipulation of PHP config

Here’s my contribution based on a Homebrew-installed PHP installation on Mac OS X.

It’s a shell-script wrapper, designed to be saved as an executable file at /usr/local/bin/composer, with the Composer binary at /usr/local/bin/composer.phar:

sed -i '' -e 's:zend_extension="/usr/local/opt/php55-xdebug/xdebug.so":;zend_extension="/usr/local/opt/php55-xdebug/xdebug.so":' /usr/local/etc/php/5.5/conf.d/ext-xdebug.ini
/usr/local/bin/php /usr/local/bin/composer.phar "[email protected]"
sed -i '' -e 's:;zend_extension="/usr/local/opt/php55-xdebug/xdebug.so":zend_extension="/usr/local/opt/php55-xdebug/xdebug.so":' /usr/local/etc/php/5.5/conf.d/ext-xdebug.ini

Theory of Operation

The wrapper script:

  • uses sed to temporarily modify the configuration file, disabling Xdebug (line 2)
  • executes Composer, passing through args to the command (line 3)
  • uses sed to restore the configuration file, re-enabling Xdebug (line 4)

The script is coupled to an OS X/Homebrew installation of PHP 5.5. The paths should be adjusted to work with other PHP versions and other operating systems’ and package managers’ directory layouts. Note also that some versions of sed do not need the empty-string argument following the -i option.

Caveat Utilitor

The script is straightforward, in that it works directly on the main PHP configuration files, however this is also a drawback: Xdebug will also be disabled for any scripts that happen to be executed concurrently with this script.

In my development environment, this is an acceptable trade-off, given that Composer is executed manually and only occasionally; however you may not want to use this technique if executing Composer as part of an automated deployment process.


In most cases you do not need xdebug on CLI mode. If this is acceptable for you than you can configure cli and cgi differently.

So if you make php-cli.ini and conf-cli.d near exiting php.ini file than you can configure cli and cgi differently (for cgi it would be php.ini and conf.d). Just do not put xdebug.ini into conf-cli.d.


If you install composer using brew on OS X
You can use this alias:

alias composer="php -n $(cat $(which composer) | grep composer.phar | awk '{print $7}')"


Rather than muddle with temporarily enabling or disabling the PHP module, when you might have concurrent processes using PHP (for example as part of a CI pipeline), you can tell PHP to point at a different module loading directory.

While this is similar to some of the solutions mentioned above, this solves a few edge cases, which is very useful when being used by Jenkins or other CI runner which runs tests on the same machine concurrently.

The easiest way to do this is to use the environment variable PHP_INI_SCAN_DIR

Using this in a script or build task is easy:

export PHP_INI_SCAN_DIR=/etc/php.d.noxdebug
php composer install

Of course you would want to prepare /etc/php.d.noxdebug first, doing something like:

mkdir /etc/php.d.noxdebug
cp /etc/php.d/* /etc/php.d.noxdebug
rm /etc/php.d.noxdebug/xdebug.ini

This means you have an environment similar to the old php environment, with only one module missing. Meaning you don’t need to worry about needing to load the phar/json modules as you would with the php -n solution.


As noted in Joyce’s answer, this issue no longer exists in the latest version of Composer.

The Composer documentation has been updated to note this. It details how you can enable xdebug with Composer (if required).

You can update your version of Composer by utilising self-update.

On my Mac I had to do: sudo php /opt/local/bin/composer self-update

Further details about this in the context of a Homebrew PHP install can be found in this issue.


My quick solution for a macports installation, with multiple versions of PHP was to write this simple shell wrapper for Composer:



sudo mv /opt/local/var/db/php53/xdebug.ini /opt/local/var/db/php53/xdebug.NOT
sudo mv /opt/local/var/db/php54/xdebug.ini /opt/local/var/db/php54/xdebug.NOT
sudo mv /opt/local/var/db/php55/xdebug.ini /opt/local/var/db/php55/xdebug.NOT
composer $1 $2 $3 $4 $5 $6 $7
sudo mv /opt/local/var/db/php53/xdebug.NOT /opt/local/var/db/php53/xdebug.ini
sudo mv /opt/local/var/db/php54/xdebug.NOT /opt/local/var/db/php54/xdebug.ini
sudo mv /opt/local/var/db/php55/xdebug.NOT /opt/local/var/db/php55/xdebug.ini

Then run any composer commands like so:

sudo composer-nodebug.sh update


  • requires sudo (unless you chmod the INI files)
  • if you kill it mid-way the INI files are modified
  • will require future PHP versions added.
  • while it’s running other PHP processes are affected

Not elegant, but simple.


Here is my quick solution to get rid off the Xdebug warning on PHP5-cli version. I have removed the support of Xdebug for PHP5-cli on Ubuntu 14.04.

cd /etc/php5/cli/conf.d/

sudo rm 20-xdebug.ini

Now no more Xdebug warning on PHP5-cli.