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Basically, all you need to reproduce this is a high-traffic site (few hundreds hits a day is actually all you will NEED), and the PHP module compiled into Apache 1.3.1.
I also have the FrontPage extensions for 1.3.0 installed, but I doubt that that has anything to do with the problem. Everything else as far as configuration goes is normal.
After a while of web-serving, a few hundred people will hit a .phtml page over and over, and for some reason, the httpd process that serves these pages dies (which is normal, due to keepalive), but what's weird is that it doesn't get reported on Apache's scoreboard. So if you go to the "status" page of Apache you will see a ton of httpd processes serving PHTML pages, but none of them actually exist on the system.
The way to workaround this is to compile PHP as a cgi-bin binary, other than compiling it as a module. I have found no problems when running PHP3 in this way, but it would be nice to have it compiled into the web server anyways...
If any of the programmers can figure out a solution to this, I would appreciate it.
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I don't see how this can be a PHP bug. Try the latest version of Apache.