Connection to a MS SQL Server from Symfony / Doctrine on Mac or Linux

Microsoft provides a SQL Server driver for PDO. Unfortunately, this driver only works on Windows. Linux and Mac OS X apps must use the FreeTDS compatibility layer: an open source implementation of the MS SQL Server protocol for Unix.

It’s possible to connect a Symfony app to a SQL Server instance on Unix through FreeTDS but this involve to use a Doctrine driver that is not provided with the standard distribution. Some tutorials already explain how to do that, but they encourage doing dirty things like editing files in the vendor/ directory. Here is the clean way!

First, install FreeTDS.

On Mac OX X, use Homebrew:
brew install freetds

On Debian or Ubuntu:
apt-get install freetds-bin

The next step is to configure FreeTDS to be able to connect to the SQL Server instance.

Open the freetds.conf file (/etc/freetds/freetds.conf on Debian / Ubuntu and /usr/local/etc/freetds.conf on Mac OS X) and add the connection details of your server:

[my_server]
host = sql.example.com
port = 1433
tds version = 8.0
client charset = UTF-8
text size = 20971520

Be sure to set the protocol version to 8.0, the client charset and the text size.

Now, you should be able to connect to the SQL server from the command line:
tsql -S my_server -U myusername

Type your password when asked and Ctrl+D to disconnect from the server.

It’s time to install the DBLIB PDO Driver.

On Mac OS X (replace php55 by the version of PHP you are using):
brew install php55-pdo-dblib

On Debian or Ubuntu:
apt-get install php5-sybase

And add the DBLIB driver for Doctrine (packaged in a Symfony bundle) in your app:

# in your Symfony app directory
composer require realestateconz/mssql-bundle:dev-master

Enable the Symfony bundle. Add this line in the registerBundles() method of your AppKernel in app/AppKernel.php:

Finally, configure Doctrine to use this driver. Edit app/config/config.yml:

Note that you must use the driver_class parameter, and not driver. Of course, you should not hardcode these values. Use the interactive parameters system instead.

Your Symfony app is now able to connect to the SQL Server. Try to run a SQL query:
php app/console doctrine:query:sql "SELECT * FROM MY_TABLE"

As SQL Server is a bad default DBMS for a Symfony app, especially on Unix servers, you should be interested by using multiple database connection with Symfony and Doctrine.

9 comments

  1. Hi there.

    Thanks for this precious tutorial! Configured everything no problems!

    Are you available for some further help? We got to the point we successfully get a reply from our remote MSSQL via “php app/console doctrine:query:sql …”

    Now we’d like to reverse engineer the database into a bundle, but:

    a) using realestateconz we have a problem with a data type

    [Doctrine\DBAL\DBALException]
    Unknown database type timestamp requested, Realestate\MssqlBundle\Platforms\DblibPlatform may not support it.

    b) we tried using the isoft fork, but then we bump into

    [ErrorException]
    Notice: Undefined index: constraint_name in …/vendor/isoft/mssql-bundle/Realestate/MssqlBundle/Schema/DblibSchemaManager.php line
    32

    • Hi Giancarlo,

      The reverse engineering feature is not supported through this driver. IMO the easiest way is to generate the model from a Windows box with the official Microsoft driver (if it supports reverse engineering) then to use the model with the Linux driver.

      • Merci Kévin! It’s a long shot, but we’ll have a crack at it!

        Last thing: what distribution of this MSSQL bundle should we count on? The one you’re using in your tutorial or the isoft fork?

        Thanks in advance…

        • I’m using the bundle from realestateconz because it is still maintained (last commit 2 months ago) and doesn’t require to edit manually files in the vendor/ directory.

          I’ve not tried the isoft fork but there is no activity on the repository for a while.

          • Very well, mate. Thanks a bunch! We’ll revert to the realestateconz bundle and move on from there. I’ll keep you posted if we have any useful result.

  2. Thanx for this great article, I learnt many interesting things.
    Do you know how to get proper error messages or at least the contextual parameters for them ?
    IE: Conversion failed when converting the %1 value %2 to data type %3.

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