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(PHP 4 >= 4.2.0, PHP 5)

pcntl_execExecutes specified program in current process space


void pcntl_exec ( string $path [, array $args [, array $envs ]] )

Executes the program with the given arguments.



path must be the path to a binary executable or a script with a valid path pointing to an executable in the shebang ( #!/usr/local/bin/perl for example) as the first line. See your system's man execve(2) page for additional information.


args is an array of argument strings passed to the program.


envs is an array of strings which are passed as environment to the program. The array is in the format of name => value, the key being the name of the environmental variable and the value being the value of that variable.

Return Values

Returns FALSE on error and does not return on success.

User Contributed Notes
fahadsadah at gmail dot com dot please dot remove dot this
28-Jun-2008 02:44
Just a note regarding what rbemrose at vgmusic dot com said:
Once the executed process ends, control returns to the webserver process.
rbemrose at vgmusic dot com
06-Feb-2008 10:44
As a side note, if I'm reading the comments below correctly, you should not run this if you're using a PHP webserver module, as it will replace the webserver's process with whatever process you're telling it to run.
agodong at verizon dot net
07-Dec-2006 06:47
Some people might find it useful to run other program using the same process as a different user. This is very usefull if the script is running under root. Here is a simple code to achieve that under *nix PHP CLI:

#!/usr/bin/php -q
//Enter run-as user below (argument needed to be passed when the script is called), otherwise it will run as the caller user process.

$username = $_SERVER['argv'][1];

$user = posix_getpwnam($username);

I use this as a part of socket program so that a program can be run under different user from remote location.
eric kilfoil
24-Oct-2006 05:01
The pcntl_exec() function works exactly like the standard (unix-style) exec() function.  It differs from the regular PHP exec() function in that the process calling the pcntl_exec() is replaced with the process that gets called.  This is the ideal method for creating children.  In a simple example (that does no error checking):

switch (pcntl_fork()) {
  case 0:
    $cmd = "/path/to/command";
    $args = array("arg1", "arg2");
    pcntl_exec($cmd, $args);
    // the child will only reach this point on exec failure,
    // because execution shifts to the pcntl_exec()ed command

// parent continues
echo "I am the parent";


since this is not being executed through a shell, you must provide the exact path from the filesystem root.  Look at the execve() man page for more information.
michael dot ferre at mobileway dot com
20-Nov-2002 11:28
//To complete my last note
//If you use some object in your php code
//You will have some problem if you do a exit after include the
//child scripts
//You must use posix_kill() like that :

$CHILD_PID = pcntl_fork();
if($CHILD_PID == 0)
  include ($script_path);

//This code is very simple it can be ameliorate ;)
michael dot ferre at mobileway dot com
19-Nov-2002 12:19
//If you are in php version between 4.1 and 4.2
//When you use pcntl_fork and after you want use
//pcntl_exec, you can because pcntl_exec isn't used before
//php 4.2 so let me show a solution :

$CHILD_PID = pcntl_fork();
if($CHILD_PID == 0)
   include ($script_path);

//$script_path is the  *.php page which you want lauch like
// a child .

//I don't know why php coder hadn't add  pcntl_exec in the
//same time that other function

//MichaŽl F. php developer .

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