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The PEAR Project
PEAR is a framework and distribution system for reusable PHP components. You can find help using PEAR packages in the online manual and the FAQ.
PEAR offers a wide range of packages for both PHP 4 and 5.
These packages provide all sorts of common functionality, like Validation or interacting with a Database.
Some of the most popular packages include:
PEAR on the Command Line
The most user visible piece of software which makes up the PEAR framework is the command line tool.
For example, you can use the command line tool to install packages:
pear install -a MDB2
or upgrade existing packages
This makes the installing of packages simpler for users & developers who administer their own servers.
PEAR is built around the concept of a 'channel'. Other websites can provide their own PEAR channels.
For instance, doing:
pear channel-discover pear.phpunit.de
pear install phpunit/phpunit
Will allow you to install PHPUnit, which is entirely independent of PEAR itself.