There are basically two ways to run PHP.
The standard way - which we support - is running PHP compiled into the web server itself.
The other way is to run PHP as a separate executable, which is launched every time a script uses it. As a general rule this is not preferable, at least if speed of execution is your priority. This is more or less how Perl works, and as much as I love Perl, it is slower than PHP (not counting mod_perl, which works similarly to embedded PHP, but we don't support that for various reasons).
One advantage of running PHP as an executable is that it patches some security problems inherent to running it compiled into the web server. It's also kind of nice for debugging things, or running stuff from cron (although there's ways to do that with traditional PHP as well).
- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin