This looks similar to

Drupal 7 keeps returning to install.php and reports no settings.php but it's all there

but I only just registered so can't comment.

This is a single site (still drupal 7.59). free_access is true, sites/defaults/settings.php is writeable by all (website on local machine to try to figure out solution.) Connection to mysql seems OK.

One clue: if I proceed to install, "Verify requirements" says things like:

The Drupal installer requires that the ./sites/default/default.settings.php file not be modified in any way from the original download.

yet from within the nginx root directory:

# ls -l sites/default/default.settings.php
-rw-r--r--  1 root  users  26250 May  3 15:53 sites/default/default.settings.php

so where does drupal look? (I didn't find a mention of the root directory in the database...)

  • I should probably have also stated the obvious: install.php is in the nginx root directory. May 14, 2018 at 10:38
  • Did you changed the default.settings.php or is it at least in the directory ?
    – pbonnefoi
    May 14, 2018 at 10:47
  • In my original question I show that default.settings.php is in the directory, and $ diff sites/default/default.settings.php /tmp/drupal-7.59/sites/default/default.settings.php shows no difference. May 14, 2018 at 14:05
  • <?php define('DRUPAL_ROOT', getcwd()); require_once DRUPAL_ROOT . '/includes/bootstrap.inc'; drupal_bootstrap(DRUPAL_BOOTSTRAP_CONFIGURATION); print_r(conf_path()); ?> outputs: "sites/default" May 16, 2018 at 9:35
  • Do you have drush installed ? If so can you paste what "drush status" says ?
    – pbonnefoi
    May 16, 2018 at 9:52

1 Answer 1


The script useful for tracking this down was:

define('DRUPAL_ROOT', getcwd());
require_once DRUPAL_ROOT . '/includes/bootstrap.inc';
print_r(getcwd()); echo '<br>';
print_r(conf_path()); echo '<br>';
$settings_path = DRUPAL_ROOT . '/' . conf_path() . '/settings.php';
echo "settings_path: $settings_path<br>";
$ret = realpath($settings_path);
echo "ret: $ret<br>";

The clue was that $ret was empty. From the realpath documentation:

Note: The running script must have executable permissions on all directories in the hierarchy, otherwise realpath() will return FALSE.


drwxr-x---  3 root  users  512 May 16 14:34 default

to have world executable permission worked around the problem.

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