PHP was a somewhat complicated install. … 

PHP was a somewhat complicated install.

I first had to download and install the inconv library, and the mcrypt library, and tell the PHP configure script about them. Furthermore I had to point the configure script at my existing mySQL installation (an easy osx package double clickey type installation) and apache installation. Only after carefully balancing the conflicting forces of each of these configure options would the make script run correctly. Notably, libmycrypt is the part of mcrypt that PHP needs. The actual mcrypt program has dependencies on some hashing algorithms that I had trouble finding, but is not actually needed. Both of these projects are available here.

to test my php installation, I wrote a short PHP file that invoked phpinfo command, which brings up a screen detailing the configuration options set for PHP.

Once php was installed I restarted apache and tested.