Enabling Memcached on BlueHost

Bluehost is a pretty good web hosting company, cheap and leaving you in total control of your website.
That is if you know your way around.
I highly recommend them for dirt cheap hosting yet access to powerful features.

A common complaint against any cheap hosting is the lack of memcached installation by default.
It really doesn’t make sense even business-wise for them because memcached would allow to use less CPU/Memory per site hosted, meaning less total servers, meaning less power drawn, meaning big savings.
The hosting plans charging usually a fixed amount per month or year, reducing CPU/Memory/Servers would really make sense as the savings would be on directly on them.

Anyway, now we need to setup memcached ourselves on a machine we don’t have root access to.
No big deal, we will just have to compile everything ourselves.

Here’s how.

1/ Create an installation folder.

As we cannot write to /usr/, we cannot install any software system wide, so everything will remain local in our home folder.
Let’s call it ~/install/
It will be where you install all your compiled software, acting like the /usr/ folder we don’t have access to.

bash# mkdir ~/install

2/ Compile libevent

Why libevent? Because we will need it later to compile memcached.

bash# wget http://www.monkey.org/~provos/libevent-1.4.13-stable.tar.gz
bash# tar zxf libevent-1.4.13-stable.tar.gz
bash# cd libevent-1.4.13-stable
bash# ./configure -prefix=~/install/
bash# make
bash# make install

libevent is now neatly installed in our home directory at ~/install/

3/ Compile memcached

bash# wget http://memcached.googlecode.com/files/memcached-1.4.4.tar.gz
bash# tar xzf memcached-1.4.4.tar.gz
bash# cd memcached-1.4.4
bash# ./configure --with-libevent=~/install/ --prefix=~/install/
bash# make
bash# make install

Neat, now we have memcached installed in ~/install/bin/, so let’s try to run it.

bash# cd ~/install/bin
bash# ./memcached
failed to set rlimit for open files. Try running as root or requesting smaller maxconns value.
bash# ./memcached -c 100
^CSIGINT handled

So we hit a limitation: as we’re not root, our memcached server is limited to only 100 connections instead of the default 1024.
Maybe we can live with that.

Now the server part is done, we need to be able to use the PHP commands to communicate with memcached.
This is found in the PEAR packages.

4/ Install the PHP memcache client

(the memcache client doesn’t have the ‘d’ at the end)

bash# pecl install memcache
downloading memcache-2.2.5.tgz ...
Starting to download memcache-2.2.5.tgz (35,981 bytes)
..........done: 35,981 bytes
11 source files, building
running: phpize
Configuring for:
PHP Api Version:         20041225
Zend Module Api No:      20060613
Zend Extension Api No:   220060519
Enable memcache session handler support? [yes] :
Notice: Use of undefined constant STDIN - assumed 'STDIN' in CLI.php on line 304

Warning: fgets(): supplied argument is not a valid stream resource in CLI.php on line 304

Warning: fgets(): supplied argument is not a valid stream resource in /root/lib/php/PEAR/Frontend/CLI.php on line 304
building in /usr/local/src/pear/pear-build-bottoml8/memcache-2.2.5
ERROR: could not create build dir: /usr/local/src/pear/pear-build-bottoml8/memcache-2.2.5

Ouch, we’re not root so pecl fails.
No big deal: pecl already downloaded memcache-2.2.5.tgz for us, let’s compile it manually.

bash# tar xzf memcache-2.2.5.tgz
bash# cd memcache-2.2.5
bash# phpize
bash# ./configure --prefix=~/install/
bash# make
bash# make test
bash# make install
Installing shared extensions:     /usr/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20060613/
cp: cannot create regular file `/usr/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20060613/#INST@7000#': Read-only file system
make: *** [install-modules] Error 1
bash# ls modules/
./  ../  memcache.so*
bash# cp memcache.so ~/install/lib/

Ok, make install failed, but we have already what we need: memcache.so in the memcache-2.2.5/modules/ directory.
It’s the extension we need to load in PHP (in the php.ini file) so we can use the PHP commands to access memcached.
We just moved it to ~/install/lib/ so it’s comfy with the other libraries we compiled earlier (libevent and memcached).

5/ Load the memcache module for PHP

Now for the tricky part:
As we don’t have root access, we cannot just change the server’s php.ini file to include our freshly brewed memcache.so and restart Apache to make the changes taken into account.

But Bluehost provides us with a neat way to use our own php.ini file.
By default this option is disabled.
In their cPanel it’s listed under the category ‘Software / Services’ as ‘PHP Config’.

By default the setting is Standard PHP5, we need to change that to the third option: PHP5 (FastCGI)
It will directly load the php.ini it finds in your ~/public_html/ directory.

On this same page of the cPanel, there’s an interesting button “INSTALL PHP.INI MASTER FILE”.
Just click it and magically the server’s php.ini file is copied in ~/public_html/php.ini.default

It’s now our base php.ini we’ll use to load memcache. Let’s edit it.

bash# cd ~/public_html/
bash# mv php.ini.default php.ini
bash# vi php.ini

In php.ini, find the line that reads:
extension_dir = “/usr/local/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20060613″
and replace it with
extension_dir = “/home/your_bluehost_user_name/install/lib”
so that we have access to our memcache.so lib.
At the end if php.ini, before the last line that loads the Zend Optimizer, include this line to load memcache.so:

There should be some other libraries being loaded here:

As we changed the extension_dir path these libraries are not accessible anymore so you can just comment them.
extension_dir does not support listing multiple directories so I wish we didn’t have to do that.
At some point there was a proposal to make it happen, don’t know if it’s implemented yet, I couldn’t find anything about it.
Worst case scenario if you need PDO (and you probably do), you just need to compile it and install it in ~/install/lib/

Now that php.ini is modified, the server will pick up the configuration automagically.
But you may have to wait a little bit as php.ini will not be read again right away, you have to wait for the next poll, a few minutes.

6/ Let’s use memcached!

Now everything’s installed, let’s finally use memcached.

Create a memcache.php test file that will connect to memcached and just return the server version:

$memcache = new Memcache;
$memcache->addServer('localhost', 11211);
$memcache->connect('localhost', 11211);

echo $memcache->getVersion();

Start the memcached in verbose mode so we can see our connection arriving:

bash# cd ~/install/bin/
bash#  ./memcached -h
memcached 1.4.4
-p <num>      TCP port number to listen on (default: 11211)
-U <num>      UDP port number to listen on (default: 11211, 0 is off)
-s <file>     UNIX socket path to listen on (disables network support)
-a <mask>     access mask for UNIX socket, in octal (default: 0700)
-l <ip_addr>  interface to listen on (default: INADDR_ANY, all addresses)
-d            run as a daemon
-r            maximize core file limit
-u <username> assume identity of <username> (only when run as root)
-m <num>      max memory to use for items in megabytes (default: 64 MB)
-M            return error on memory exhausted (rather than removing items)
-c <num>      max simultaneous connections (default: 1024)
-k            lock down all paged memory.  Note that there is a
              limit on how much memory you may lock.  Trying to
              allocate more than that would fail, so be sure you
              set the limit correctly for the user you started
              the daemon with (not for -u <username> user;
              under sh this is done with 'ulimit -S -l NUM_KB').
-v            verbose (print errors/warnings while in event loop)
-vv           very verbose (also print client commands/reponses)
-vvv          extremely verbose (also print internal state transitions)
-h            print this help and exit
-i            print memcached and libevent license
-P <file>     save PID in <file>, only used with -d option
-f <factor>   chunk size growth factor (default: 1.25)
-n <bytes>    minimum space allocated for key+value+flags (default: 48)
-L            Try to use large memory pages (if available). Increasing
              the memory page size could reduce the number of TLB misses
              and improve the performance. In order to get large pages
              from the OS, memcached will allocate the total item-cache
              in one large chunk.
-D <char>     Use <char> as the delimiter between key prefixes and IDs.
              This is used for per-prefix stats reporting. The default is
              ":" (colon). If this option is specified, stats collection
              is turned on automatically; if not, then it may be turned on
              by sending the "stats detail on" command to the server.
-t <num>      number of threads to use (default: 4)
-R            Maximum number of requests per event, limits the number of
              requests process for a given connection to prevent
              starvation (default: 20)
-C            Disable use of CAS
-b            Set the backlog queue limit (default: 1024)
-B            Binding protocol - one of ascii, binary, or auto (default)
-I            Override the size of each slab page. Adjusts max item size
              (default: 1mb, min: 1k, max: 128m)
bash# ./memcached -c 100 -vvv -l
slab class   1: chunk size        96 perslab   10922
slab class   2: chunk size       120 perslab    8738
slab class   3: chunk size       152 perslab    6898
slab class   4: chunk size       192 perslab    5461
slab class  40: chunk size    616944 perslab       1
slab class  41: chunk size    771184 perslab       1
slab class  42: chunk size   1048576 perslab       1
<26 server listening (auto-negotiate)
<27 send buffer was 124928, now 268435456
<27 server listening (udp)

---- Access the memcache.php file here in your browser ----

<28 new auto-negotiating client connection
<29 new auto-negotiating client connection
29: going from conn_new_cmd to conn_waiting
29: going from conn_waiting to conn_read
29: going from conn_read to conn_parse_cmd
29: Client using the ascii protocol
<29 version
>29 VERSION 1.4.4
29: going from conn_parse_cmd to conn_write
29: going from conn_write to conn_new_cmd
29: going from conn_new_cmd to conn_waiting
29: going from conn_waiting to conn_read
28: going from conn_new_cmd to conn_waiting
28: going from conn_waiting to conn_read
28: going from conn_read to conn_closing
<28 connection closed.

Tada! And magically the browser is displaying a magnificent “1.4.4“.

You got yourself a memcached server running on BlueHost.

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23 Responses to “Enabling Memcached on BlueHost”

  1. Davy says:

    Thank for your info , that ’s really useful , but know I have other situation , when I close the Putty then my host will auto delete the memcached connect , do you have same problem about that ? I am very interested in it.

  2. PlF says:

    Hi Davy,
    You have to start memcached as a daemon (option -d) like this:

    ./memcached -c 100 -d -l

    and it will run in the background.

    Although I noticed that when I do that, the process exits after a few minutes.

    Wondering if BlueHost is not just terminating any process called ‘memcached’.

    In that case maybe just renaming it may work.

  3. Morgan Cheng says:

    I followed your steps. However, when I run “./memcached”, I got below error message.

    ./memcached: error while loading shared libraries: libevent-1.4.so.2: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

    Is there any solution for this?

  4. PlF says:

    If you followed the steps I trust you used –with-libevent pointing to the correct directory when configuring memcached before compilation.

    What to do next?

    It means memcached could not find the library, probably because it’s looking in the wrong place or the exact version of the library it’s looking for is not there.

    The best thing to do is run it in debug mode as follows:

    LD_DEBUG=libs ./memcached -v

    And look for the messages like:
    20885: find library=libevent-1.4.so.2 [0]; searching
    20885: search path=/home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib/tls/x86_64:/home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib/tls:/home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib/x86_64:/home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib (LD_LIBRARY_PATH)
    20885: trying file=/home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib/tls/x86_64/libevent-1.4.so.2
    20885: trying file=/home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib/tls/libevent-1.4.so.2
    20885: trying file=/home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib/x86_64/libevent-1.4.so.2
    20885: trying file=/home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib/libevent-1.4.so.2

    Then you just need to pick one of the path memcached is using to look for libevent (in “trying file”).
    Copy the proper libevent-1.4.so.2 at the exact location so memcached picks it up next time it runs.
    Or you can just use a simlink:
    ln -s /path/to/libevent-1.4.so.2 /home/myhome/bin/libevent/lib/libevent-1.4.so.2

  5. lwrand says:

    First, thx for this great guide.

    I followed all the steps and now I have the same issue as PIF said.
    After a few minutes, my process is killed (probably by BlueHost)

    I’ll try to rename it and check if it stays up longer.

  6. Kissy says:


    I tried to install Memcached on Bluehost server.
    I also have the libevent-1.4.so.2 error.

    The LD_DEBUG=libs on memcached show me that it was looking on the /usr/lib64 directory.
    how can I change this to the right directory ?

  7. Perfect write-up! Thanks so much! I have a feeling that Bluehost is on to us now and is killing the process as a few people mentioned above. Any thoughts about this suspicion?

  8. greg says:

    I also have the libevent-1.4.so.2 error, tried making symbolic link, and got “Read-only file system” error. Also, got a an error when using the “~”, had to use the full path “/homeX/myname/”.

  9. Arul says:

    i could not find this file memcache-2.2.5.tgz after the installing error. i download from http://pecl.php.net/package/memcache here and copied.

  10. Arul says:

    i renamed memcached to mysqld then i started like this ./memcached -c 100 -d -l .. it started successfully for me… after some time it going down… someone killed that… to show my process i use top -u

  11. sf says:

    But if I have many .so files in mysite/modules directory, what should I do?

  12. sf says:

    ok, ill just move my so files, no problems. but what if I got the message, that port 11211 is already use? How can I change it?

  13. Artak says:

    I am trying to install memcached as described. But I get an error

    [B]./memcached: error while loading shared libraries: libevent-2.0.so.2: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory[/B]

    And it is immposible to copy file or symlink to /usr/ because of permissions. Any idea ?

  14. hkarthi says:

    I tried accessing my CPanel when I get the following error:

    Memcache doesn’t appear to be turned on
    fatal at Lock.pm line 70 (‘Memcache doesn\’t…’, ‘HASH(0xc75640)’)
    lock at Lock.pm line 27 (‘Lock=HASH(0xc75750)’)
    new at Throttle.pm line 63 (‘Lock’, ‘HASH(0xc72ad0)’)
    _concurrent_lock at Throttle.pm line 199 (‘Throttle=HASH(0xc…’)
    DESTROY at Ex/App.pm line 43 (‘Throttle=HASH(0xc…’)
    eval {…} at Ex/App.pm line 43
    navigate at App.pm line 124 (‘main’)
    eval {…} at App.pm line 122
    navigate at cplogin line 20 (‘main’)

    I tried searching for a solution in Bluehost help center and forums but couldn’t find any! I do not know much programing but any help is deeply appreciated!

  15. The Host Guy says:


    Just one little addition. Trying to use ./configure -prefix=~/install/ failed requesting a full path which, in my case, looked something like /home1/username/install/

    Using that worked great, but trying to use ~/ caused it to error out.

  16. Hazael says:

    memcache lasts some minutes and then is killed, so it doesn work for me :’(

  17. Curtis says:

    By default, Bluehost automatically kills any process after 5 minutes. To run a process for more than 5 minutes you need to purchase a dedicated IP. See https://my.bluehost.com/cgi/help/426

  18. Wim says:

    Everything went ok until step 4. When I type “pecl install memcache” I get the message “pecl/memcache is already installed and is the same as the released version 2.2.6 install failed”.

    I am puzzled what to do next. I tried just to add “extension=memcache.so” to my php.ini in the hope that is was in the path but that didn’t work.

    Any suggestions?

  19. Wim says:

    At some later time it did work…

  20. Frank says:

    Just wondered if anyone can keep memcached running forever in the hosting account. As now it is killed after sometime. If you can keep it running forever, can you show me how you did it? If you run it in different alias name, can you tell me how you set it up?

  21. Sterling says:

    Curtis is right, you would have to have a dedicated IP for it to run longer then 5 minutes

  22. Isaac says:

    When I run ./memcached , nothing happens, it just hangs… any thoughts, solutions?

    Thanks for writing this post, you are a rockstar!

  23. xavixaus says:

    Perfect, it works for me with indications in http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Memcached_on_Bluehost too.

    Thanks a lot for your help.