How To Install ionCube on Ubuntu 16.04

NginxUbuntuApachePHPUbuntu 16.04


ionCube is a PHP module extension that loads encrypted PHP files and speeds up webpages. It is often required for PHP-based applications. In this tutorial, we will install ionCube on a Ubuntu 16.04 server.


To follow this tutorial, you will need:

  • One Ubuntu 16.04 server with a sudo non-root user and firewall, which you can set up by following this initial server setup tutorial.
  • A web server with PHP installed, like Apache or Nginx. Follow the steps for installing the web server itself, updating the firewall, and installing PHP.

Step 1 — Choosing the Right ionCube Version

It is important that the version of ionCube you choose matches your PHP version, so first, you need to know:

  • The version of PHP our web server is running, and
  • If it is 32-bit or 64-bit.

If you have a 64-bit Ubuntu server, you are probably running 64-bit PHP, but let’s make sure. To do so, we’ll use a small PHP script to retrieve information about our server’s current PHP configuration.

Create a file called info.php file in the root directory of your web server (likely /var/www/html, unless you’ve changed it) using nano or your favorite text editor.

  • sudo nano /var/www/html/info.php

Paste the following inside the file, then save and close it.


After saving the changes to the file, visit http://your_server_ip/info.php in your favorite browser. The web page you’ve opened should look something like this:

Ubuntu 16.10 default PHP info

From that page, look at the header at the top where it says PHP Version. In this case, we’re running 7.0.8. Then, look at the System line. If it ends with x86_64, you’re running 64-bit PHP; if it ends with i686, it’s 32-bit.

With this information, you can proceed with the download and installation.

Step 2 — Setting Up ionCube

Visit the ionCube download page and find the appropriate download link based on your OS. In our example, we need the this 64-bit Linux version. Copy the tar.gz link on the site and download the file.

  • wget http://downloads3.ioncube.com/loader_downloads/ioncube_loaders_lin_x86-64.tar.gz

Next, extract the archive.

  • tar xvfz ioncube_loaders_lin_x86-64.tar.gz

This creates a directory named ioncube which contains various files for various PHP versions. Choose the right folder for your PHP version. In our example, we need the file PHP version 7.0, which is ioncube_loader_lin_7.0.so. We will copy this file to the PHP extensions folder.

To find out the path of the extensions folder, check the http://your_server_ip/info.php page again and search for extension_dir.

extension_dir PHP configuration directive

In this example, it’s /usr/lib/php/20151012, so copy the file there:

  • sudo cp ioncube/ioncube_loader_lin_7.0.so /usr/lib/php/20151012/

For PHP to load the extension, we need to add it to the PHP configuration. We can do it in the main php.ini PHP configuration file, but it’s cleaner to create a separate file. We can set this separate file to load before other extensions to avoid possible conflicts.

To find out where we should create the custom configuration file, look at http://your_server_ip/info.php again and search for Scan this dir for additional .ini files.

Additional PHP configuration files

So, we’ll create a file named 00-ioncube.ini inside the /etc/php/7.0/apache2/conf.d directory. The 00 at the beginning of the filename ensures this file will be loaded before other PHP configuration files.

  • sudo nano /etc/php/7.0/apache2/conf.d/00-ioncube.ini

Paste the following loading directive, then save and close the file.

zend_extension = "/usr/lib/php/20151012/ioncube_loader_lin_7.0.so"

For the above change to take effect, we will need to restart the web server.

If you are using Apache, run:

  • sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

If you are using Nginx, run:

  • sudo systemctl restart nginx

You may also need to restart php-fpm, if you’re using it.

  • sudo systemctl restart php7.0-fpm.service

Finally, let’s make sure that the PHP extension is installed and enabled.

Step 3 — Verifying the ionCube Installation

Back on the http://your_server_ip/info.php page, refresh the page and search for the “ionCube” keyword. You should now see with the ionCube PHP Loader (enabled):

ionCube installed

That confirms that the PHP ionCube extension is loaded on your server.

It can be a bit of a security risk to keep the info.php script, as it allows potential attackers to see information about your server, so remove it now.

  • sudo rm /var/www/html/info.php

You can also safely remove the extra downloaded ionCube files which are no longer necessary.

  • sudo rm ioncube_loaders_lin_x86-64.tar.gz
  • sudo rm -rf ioncube_loaders_lin_x86-64

ionCube is now fully set up and functional.


Now that the ionCube PHP extension has been installed, you can proceed with any PHP application which requires it.

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