The instructions for setting up a phprc at http://wiki.dreamhost.com/PHP.ini#Replace_the_system_php.ini_entirely don't work.
Here's the deal: I SSH to hulk.dreamhost.com, logging in as the same user which a site runs under. I created ~/.php/5.3/phprc. The contents of this phprc file is asdad = adadao. It's nonsense because I'm trying to induce an error; no error = the phprc is being ignored.
In the Dreamhost panel, I have PHP 5.3 FastCGI selected for PHP mode for this site. None of the other check boxes under Web Options are selected.
Just to make sure PHP 5.3 is really running, I also run top in my SSH session. I can see php53.cgi running while I request pages for that site.
I visit the site get no error. Hence, the phprc is being ignored. I've also tried a valid setting that's different than the default php.ini, and the valid setting is also being ignored.
I've tried killall php53.cgi, but that has no effect.
I also checked directory permissions. .php and 5.3 have 775, and phprc has 664. The files are owned by the same account under which the web site runs.