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! And if you are interested in creating your own server then read more here.

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:

host =
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:

new Realestate\MssqlBundle\RealestateMssqlBundle(),

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

        driver_class: Realestate\MssqlBundle\Driver\PDODblib\Driver
        host: my_server
        dbname: MYDATABASE
        user: myuser
        password: mypassword

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.