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In order to get Zen Cart functioning on a computer you have root access to you will need to to the following:

  • Install and configure PHP.
  • Install and configure Apache.
  • Download and install Zen Cart.

Most Zen Cart users will pay for a web hosting company to administer their servers, in which case your web host will take care of the first 2 steps, and you need only concern yourself with the final. However many users find it useful to install a local copy to a privately administered PC, for the purpose of development and testing.

The instructions for the first two steps vary heavily depending on the OS of the computer you wish to install Zen Cart on. Therefore separate instructions are provided for the three major OS's.

Below you can find the software requirements for Zen Cart 1.3.x.


The minimum suggested server requirements for running Zen Cart™ v1.3.x and higher are:

  • PHP 4.3.2 or higher (PHP 4.4.x for optimal performance),
  • Apache 1.3.x
  • MySQL 3.2x or higher
  • Register Globals may be on or off
  • PHP Safe_Mode = off (recommended)

The ideal server configuration is:

  • PHP 4.4.x or higher
  • Apache 1.3.x or 2.x
  • MySQL 3.2x or 4.0.x (with significant memory resources devoted to the MySQL processes)
  • Register Globals = off
  • PHP Safe_Mode = off


Many shipping and payment modules require CURL to be installed and compiled with php.
Support for HTTPS may be required depending on the payment methods being accepted. The use of SSL during account creation and checkout is recommended.
If you are running on a Unix/Linux host with PHP running as CGI, you may have some difficulties. In Linux, it is recommended to use PHP as an Apache module, not as a CGI app, unless you have server-level control of configuring the CGI options and advanced knowledge of tuning the server to function optimally.
Zen Cart&trade 
Using Zen Cart™ v1.3.x+ with a PHP version lower than 4.3.2 will result in problems with maintaining sessions.
PHP5 is not officially supported by Zen Cart™ at this time since it hasn't been exhaustively tested; however, many shopowners are successfully running their shops on servers using PHP5. The development of v1.3.x is using constructs that are more compliant with PHP5 but full specific testing for PHP5 is not a primary goal of the 1.3.x series.
MySQL 4.1.x 
MySQL 4.1.x uses an encryption scheme that is not 100% supported by PHP4 on older servers, so may not work with Zen Cart™ unless your host has upgraded their support for compatibility between the two systems.
MySQL 5 
MySQL 5 has some tighter constraints on various SQL statement constructs. Zen Cart™ v1.2.x requires some coding alterations in order to work in a MySQL5 environment. Zen Cart™ v1.3.x has repaired these constructs and thus is expected to be compatible. Exhaustive testing has not yet been completed. You can use a simple patch until then.

Zen Cart™ v1.3.x works with MySQL5, but has not been designed to use the advanced database features in MySQL5 such as key constraints and atomic transactions.

Getting the code

  1. Download the latest code here. This will take you to SourceForge, which is where the files are distributed from. On that page you can choose the file you wish to download. You will be asked to select a mirror site (mirrors are different servers where the same files are hosted, but scattered around the world). It's best to choose one close to your own geographic location.
  2. Using a tool like WinZip or WinRAR, you can extract the distribution files to your local computer.

If you need to access an older version of Zen Cart™, you can find those files here.